Mikael Conn and Hud Morgan faced each other twice on the football field last week — once as friendly rivals and once as just friends.
Both times, they had a sense of purpose
The two FFA members — Conn, a sophomore from Aubrey, and Morgan, a sophomore from Pilot Point — came together with other FFA members and their two communities Friday night to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
The FFA students from the two schools held an American flag during a ceremony in which other students participated. Morgan said it was “amazing” to get the opportunity to participate.
The previous night, Conn and Morgan had faced each other on the Aubrey football field for the JV game.
“We lined up against each other last night,” Conn said. “Last night, we went hard; we hit each other. Right here, we’re good buddies.
“Once we put on this blue and gold jacket and stand up with that American flag, we’re best friends. We’re not rivals. We become one.”
Conn called the ceremony “beautiful.” The ceremony featured poetry about 9/11 announced on the public address system.
“It was emotional seeing the impact that 9/11 had on our country and how the heroes on that day made the ultimate sacrifice, and it was a great opportunity to represent that, all they gave,” Morgan said.
Conn said even though 9/11 happened when he and Morgan were toddlers, they still know the effect it had on the country, and they did their part to show respect.
Abagail Trowbridge and Hannah Sullivan, both seniors at Pilot Point, were two of many students who took part on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
“It was really special to be able to participate in something like that,” Sullivan said.
The students also liked being able to do the commemoration with Aubrey.
Fans attending the game offered their memories of that day.
Russell Baker, an Aubrey fan, was in Albuquerque that day getting ready to take his mother-in-law to the airport. He watched events happen on television, catching the second plane hitting the World Trade Center tower.
“We lived beside the big FEMA headquarters; they had all of our streets shut down,” he said. “We couldn’t leave our block area for at least eight hours. They pretty much had all of Albuquerque shut down because all the FEMA, the labs and military installations.”
The consequences of that day are obvious in some ways, he said.
“I don’t know that the country has changed much,” Baker said, as he was about to depart the concession stand at halftime. “It’s made us more aware of our surroundings. Obviously, it’s increased airport security a little more. I think it’s made profiling a little more prominent.”
Aubrey fan Priscilla Steinhoff said she thinks morals have declined in the country since 9/11 and people have forgotten about God. Steinhoff laments how people have lost “feelings for other people’s feelings.”
“We haven’t forgotten about 9/11 — that’s for darn sure,” said Mark Steinhoff, her husband.
He said a coworker said “who cares?’ about 9/11, which bothered Steinhoff, an Army veteran.
“I said, ‘Are you kidding me? How the heck can you not care?’” he said.
Priscilla said she and her husband moved to Texas from California in 2005 because they thought the state is more family-oriented.
“I was going to school for (nursing) and I came home to be with my family and me and my husband and my kids watched it on TV,” she said, recalling events of that day.
Kevin Dane of Pilot Point said he was in Denton at his job on the day of the attacks.
“I was in my boss’s office having a meeting and we just turned on the news because someone came into the office and said something was going on, from the radio,” he said, recalling watching the towers fall.
He thinks the world has changed “quite a bit.”
“That small-town feel is gone, the security in knowing that your kids will be able to grow the way you did,” he said. “I think those days are gone.”