Twenty Years Gone: Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

USA Lacrosse's 9/11 Memorial Garden — with its six iron spirit sticks and heart stone set in the meadow adjacent to Tierney Field in Sparks, Md. — honors the memories of 74 victims with known connections to the sport.

To recognize the 20th anniversary of 9/11, USA Lacrosse Magazine will share several stories throughout this week that capture the lives and legacies of the people, families and communities impacted most.

Jimmy Butler evocatively remembers the day.

Navigating his way through the often-brutal Long Island traffic, Butler drove from his Bellport home to Manhasset, where he managed the local Lacrosse Unlimited store. Howard Stern’s deep voice permeated the eerie silence of what became an ominous drive to work.

As Butler rounded a curve on the Northern State Parkway headed west, smoke billowed from over the tree line. Stern, providing play-by-play, reported that one plane, then another, had struck the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

“Once I arrived at work, it was just the unknown of everything,” Butler recalled 20 years later. “The second plane, the buildings going down, you’re just trying to process it all. Then it starts with, ‘Who was there?’”

The ensuing hours were like that of a nightmare. Butler went through his rolodex of lacrosse people and remembered hearing “hours and hours of nothing.” The Manhasset train station, where Long Islanders head in droves for their morning commutes, is a mere 200 feet from Lacrosse Unlimited. Butler vividly remembers seeing people come back far too early from work, covered in ash and soot.

The days and weeks that followed were somber for a prideful community like Manhasset. Butler stumbles as he recalls the funerals and wakes, one after another, that rocked the small town on Long Island’s North Shore. 

Twenty Years Gone

Eamon McEneaney, Cornell’s ‘Wild Irish Rose’ 
Nyack (N.Y.) Lacrosse and the Power of ‘Staciness’
9/11 Responder Starts Tournament to Honor Fallen
How a Lacrosse Store Provided Safe Haven for 9/11 Grievers
Remembering John Schroeder, 20 Years After 9/11
Abby Bosco Honors Late Father Every 9/11
Remembering Lehigh's Rob McLaughlin

Lacrosse havens like Manhasset and neighboring Garden City — not to mention those in Connecticut, the Hudson Valley and New Jersey — were among the communities hardest hit by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Of the 2,977 people who perished that day, 75 had known connections to lacrosse.

USA Lacrosse honors their memory with a 9/11 Memorial Garden that overlooks Tierney Field at its headquarters in Sparks, Md., as well as with an exhibit in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum that includes a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center.

Some stories went national.

Eamon McEneaney was the best-known lacrosse player who was killed in the terrorist attacks. Cornell’s “Wild Irish Rose” has a plaque in that same hall of fame acknowledging his brilliant playing career as a three-time All-American attackman. During the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, McEneaney was credited with leading 63 people down 105 flights to safety, helping them form a human chain. He performed head counts at each landing to make sure no one was left behind. McEneaney was also a poet.

Former Boston College lacrosse player Welles Crowther sacrificed his own life to save as many as 18 others on 9/11 — a heroic feat that only became more widely known after ESPN produced a feature on “The Man in the Red Bandana.” Survivors who spoke of the distinctive kerchief identified Crowther, a volunteer firefighter who always had it with him, as the one who ushered them to safety before the South Tower collapsed.

But not all heroes wear capes — or bandanas, as it were.

As part of our coverage of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we’re committed to telling the lesser-known stories. Like that of Stacey Sennas McGowan, a pioneering Wall Street woman who is from the same hometown (Nyack, N.Y.) as Crowther and also went to Boston College, where she was the captain of the lacrosse team. And those of the children of 9/11, like recent college graduates and Division I lacrosse players Abby Bosco (Penn/Maryland) and Sean Coughlin (High Point), both of whose fathers died in the attacks.

And that of Butler, an adopted member of the Manhasset lacrosse community who became part of the healing process, turning a boutique shop into a gathering place for grieving kids to escape sadness.

“The way in which it seems to touch us all,” said Frank Coughlin, Sean’s uncle and brother of the late Tim Coughlin, “the bell tolled in some way for all of us that day.”

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