20 years ago, 19 Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against the United States. At the end of that sorrowful day, almost 3,000 Americans were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In post 9/11 war operations, over 7,000 U.S. service members were killed in action.
Longwood, along with America, continues to remember 9/11. The “Salute to America” game honored firefighters, first responders, police officers, soldiers, and Reserve Officers
Training Corps (ROTC) cadets. With several service members in attendance, Longwood (1-2-1) and American (1-2-1) put on an offensive display.
In a night game highlighting offensive firepower, both teams competed fiercely for the victory. Ending in a 3-3 draw, it was surprising that the score wasn’t higher. Both teams put lots of shots on net, some barely missing while others were stopped by the goalies.
Senior Markus Gronli led Longwood scoring two goals, which was his first career multi-goal game. In a back-and-forth game that led to double overtime, Longwood revealed what they are capable of.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the commitment we showed,” said head coach Jon Atkinson. "We trained well all week, and this translated to the game.”
Assistant athletics director for corporate & community relations and marketing, Brian Rushing, discussed the importance of having the “Salute to America” event.
“We want to make sure that the folks that remember this event, that were alive for this event, can have the opportunity to remember those that lost their lives but also salute the heroes that were here tonight,” said Mr. Rushing.
He also brought up the importance of remembering the event for students who either weren’t alive or were too young to remember it.
“I think it was important to bring those students up to speed and get them to understand the historical significance of a tragedy on that day but an opportunity to show folks the really heroic efforts that all of our heroes bring out day after day.”
One of Hampden Sydney’s students who was only a few months old at the time of 9/11 is Cadet Grayson Phillips. His mother’s best friend's son was working in the South Tower during the terrorist attack. He unfortunately did not make it out in time. Cadet Phillips said that it was “an honor” participating in the color guard on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Fellow Longwood student, Bridget Davis, is currently a senior majoring in recreation therapy. She works as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Prince Edward County. She described the distinction it was to be a part of the “Salute to America” event.
“It’s something very special to be able to stand in place for the people who couldn’t and for the people who served, it’s an honor to stand here and be one of them,” said Davis.
Longwood will go on the road over the next two weeks facing the United States Naval Academy and University of North Carolina Wilmington. You’ll be able to watch these on ESPN+. Longwood’s next home game against UNC Asheville will take place on Saturday, September 25 at 2 P.M.