ARLINGTON -- The Rangers observed the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in a very touching ceremony at the Ballpark in Arlington on Sunday.They brought out Captain John Pearson, Harold Elliot and Mary and Jeremy John, all four of whom had their lives profoundly affected by the terrorist attacks. Mary John was on the 72nd floor of the South Tower at the World Trade Center when a plane struck the tower between six and 14 floors above her.
Her husband, Sujo John, was on the 81st floor of the North Tower, which was also struck by a plane above his floor. They both miraculously survived.
"I don't know if it will get any better as time goes," Mary said of the memories. "The memories are still painful, and the tears still flow freely like they did on the first day."
Mary was pregnant at the time, and doctors were worried that the dust and trauma of the events would cause her to lose the child, but Jeremy John was born several months later.
Sujo was at another engagement and could not be at the Ballpark in Arlington on Sunday, but Mary and Jeremy were on the field, as Jeremy, an avid 9-year-old Rangers fan, got to meet pitcher Derek Holland.
"It was a huge honor -- Jeremy is a huge baseball fan, and he said this smile is never going to come off his face," Mary said. "It's a great day and a great way to honor the memories of the day."
Pearson had been a mechanic for American Airlines, and he worked on the maintenance of the plane that flew into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on that day.
In the aftermath of the incident, Pearson decided that he should join the National Guard.After doing two tours in Iraq, he is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan next year on the continuing War on Terror that George W. Bush launched after the attacks. "Earlier that week, we had just taken [the plane] to overhaul where they tear it down and put it back together," Pearson said. "I got home, worked a late shift and my wife woke me up in the morning and saw what was going on. That's when we got the call from work that it was one of ours. I had been thinking of the military over the years, and I needed to go do something, so it's been a busy road since then." Harold Elliott was in Arlington, Texas, when the planes struck, serving as the Arlington Police Department chaplain. After the tragedy, Elliot moved temporarily to Ground Zero to counsel New York City firefighters and police officers. After that, Elliot traveled around the country consoling victims of the tragic events. He believes that the 10th anniversary is another symbol of the American spirit. "I really believe America is one of those nations that accepts tragedy," Elliot said. "It realizes we will rise out of the ashes, and take on a new 'normal,' which we have done." Another person who was touched by the actions of the workers at Ground Zero was in the Oakland dugout, as Athletics manager Bob Melvin got a chance to visit those workers when the D-backs faced the Yankees in the 2001 World Series. Melvin was the bench coach in Arizona at the time, and now he counts himself as a New York City resident. "More than anything, what I remember is how uplifting the rescue workers and the first responders, the police, the firemen, how passionate they were about what they were doing and so motivated," Melvin said. "How uplifting it was to watch these people do their jobs. We realized that what we do is entertainment value, but what they do is life and death, and those are the true heroes. I'll never forget that day, watching them work and go about their business." Rangers infielder Michael Young was in his rookie year in the Majors, and he remembers feeling that baseball could help the nation with the healing process. "We really understood as players what we could potentially mean for our country, as far as giving them a lift and lending a hand in the recovery process in a difficult time," Young said. "Here we are 10 years later, and I think we appreciate the fan-player relationship that much more." The Rangers gave out 35,000 Stars and Stripes caps and held emergency response familiarization training all weekend at the park. After the third inning, Soren Spence, a soldier who had served in World War II, Vietnam and Korea, was recognized on the video board, and the crowd at the Ballpark in Arlington gave him a standing ovation.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.