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09/11/11 5:30 PM ET

Sen. McCain helps D-backs honor 9/11 victims

PHOENIX -- Quoting the well used phrase, "We will never forget," and with Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" echoing through Chase Field on Sunday, the D-backs honored America's fallen victims and first responders on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

In one of the day's most poignant moments, Arizona Sen. John McCain placed a lone baseball on the mound and stood with his arm draped around D-backs starter Josh Collmenter as a military band played the national anthem. The Padres were the opponents on Sunday, a decade after terrorists killed almost 3,000 people in attacks on New York and Washington.

"I was doing TV at the time and they gave me a flag on a plastic stick. I still have it," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson recalled on Sunday. "It certainly helps you put things in perspective and you count your blessings. Until this day, you feel for the people who lost loved ones. You know, it's a terrible anniversary that we acknowledge every year, this being the 10th year, and you feel for those people.

"In baseball we've taken a great stance, a great position, to help the healing. What more can you do? You don't really know what to say. We can't even imagine the pain that those people feel. We can say we imagine it, but we don't. All we can do is be supportive."

9/11, 10 Years Later: We Shall Not Forget
MLB.com's 2001 coverage after Sept. 11
Baseball showed USA's post-9/11 resiliency
Castrovince: Public finds solace at ballparks
Bauman: However small, diversion is welcome
Noble: 10 years later, bagpipes and baseball
Giuliani recalls baseball's impact after 9/11
Baseball recalls wide-ranging emotions
Bauman: Game shaken, resolved in aftermath
Mets' memories remain vivid
In New York, Cubs remember 9/11 heroes
Torre: Emotions from 9/11 remain today
Tragedy strikes 9/11 'Faces of Hope'
Where were they? Players recall 9/11 events
Events left impression on Fall Classic
  Sights & Sounds: 2001 | 10 years later
  Baseball Remembers: Pt. 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
 Vin Scully on 9/11, 10 years later
 Jack Buck's speech, poem
 Giuliani on baseball's impact on recovery
 First pitch: Shea Stadium | Yankee Stadium
 Baseball's Best: Piazza's homer
 Galleries: Tributes | First game back in NY
How you can help
9/11 Memorial in New York
Flight 93 National Memorial
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

The D-backs defeated the Yankees in the 2001 World Series, and Sunday was the final day of a weekend-long reunion and celebration of that event. The D-backs played three of the most emotional and exciting World Series games in history that year from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 at the old Yankee Stadium. They lost them all.

But during that portion of the series, the club visited the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center at Ground Zero and are still moved by the experience.

"It was kind of surreal, given what it was and who we were," recalled Curt Schilling, who was co-MVP with Randy Johnson of that World Series. "We were trying to do any little thing we could to brighten the moment, if that was possible. To meet these [first responders] try and understand how much of an appreciation we had for the effort. What they did there was not only symbolic of the city, but of the nation.

"It was an incredibly stressful time, not only for New York, but for the country. And to see first-hand what they were doing and what they were going through was a very moving experience."

San Diego rookie reliever Brad Brach was a 15-year-old sophomore at Freehold Township High in Freehold, N.J. Freehold is located in the heart of Monmouth County, which, Brach said "is a big commuter area" into New York.

"It's about an hour from New York City, and there were a couple hundred people from the county who died that day, either people who worked in the World Trade Center or firefighters," Brach said. "I had a lot of friends who had parents who were supposed to be at work that day but didn't make it because they missed the bus or something like that."

Brach said he didn't know anyone who died on Sept. 11, but he said being from the surrounding area, the events of that day left an indelible mark on him.

"I think it was such a different experience being on the East Coast," Brach said. "A little ways from where I'm from, you could see the smoke in the sky."

Brach admitted feeling a little emotional Sunday when "Taps" was played on a television in the visiting clubhouse at Chase Field before Sunday's game against the D-backs.

"It's emotional and every year it brings back memories of that day," he said. "It's one of those days where you'll never forget where you were when it happened."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.