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Randy’s Report

| Randy Dickson
I wasn’t born Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, throwing the United States into World War II.
And although I was 5-years old in November of 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, I really don’t remember that day.

I do remember Sept. 11, 2001, and all the horror of the day when terrorists flew two airplanes into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon. Thanks to the heroic actions of a few passengers, a fourth plane never made it to the intended target.

I first learned of the attacks on a phone message from my mother. I had worked late the night of Sept. 10, and it was mid-morning before I got up and started moving.
Sports at every level were put on hold for a few days after the attack and rightfully so. Even the biggest high school and college rivalries meant nothing at that time.

Most school boards across Northwest Florida made the decision for high school sports to resume play on Friday, Sept. 14. I was in Freeport that night as Baker took on the Bulldogs.

I don’t remember much about the game. I recall that Jeff Webb was in his last season coaching the Gators and Jim Anderson coached Freeport.

The Baker quarterback was Vernon Jones, one of the best all-around athletes I’ve ever seen. Josh McKay was the Freeport quarterback.

The game was played at the stadium at Freeport Middle School as the high school had moved into the current building that fall, but the stadium on campus hadn’t been built.

Jones had a big game and Baker won, and that’s all I remember about the game itself.

The thing I will never forget is the communities coming together that night. In reality, there were no Baker Gators or Freeport Bulldogs in that stadium. I doubt if you could find a Crestview Bulldog, Fort Walton Beach Viking or Choctaw Indian in the stadiums where those schools played.

Sept. 14, 2001, was about being together as Americans. It was the family that you have with those associated with the games we play.

That September night was different than any other night I’ve experienced in sports. There were tears of pain as we hurt for our country. And tears of resolve that we would stay the course.

It was only natural that, in time, the tears turned back to cheers. Baker fans cheered that night, but it’s doubtful the cheers felt as sweet as they had felt before or would feel as the memories of Sept. 11 began to fade into the distance.

It has now been 22 years since Sept. 11. A generation has been born since that day and it is to them what Dec. 7, 1941, is to my generation.

I don’t want to forget Sept. 11, 2001. I don’t want to forget the price paid for freedom and the sacrifice so many men and women made that day and continue to make for our freedom.

I don’t want to forget Sept. 14, 2001, either. That night, at a high school football game, life started to return to normal and the healing began that for many continues to this day.

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