A lot of uncertainty was still in the air and some were even questioning if the game, or any game at all, should be played.
Back at the World Trade Center site, workers were still on the bucket brigades searching through the rubble for survivors.
President George W. Bush had ordered all airline traffic to be suspended, turning the United States of America into one huge no-fly zone except for use by the military.
Just like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, September the 11th was a day that everyone will remember where they were or what they were doing.
A group of al-Qaeda terrorists had crashed two hijacked airplanes into New York’s Twin Towers, which eventually toppled to the ground into a mass heap of and twisted metal and dust. A third hijacked airliner crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane, United 93, crashed into a Shanksville, Pa., field after passengers thwarted the terrorists’ attempt of reaching its target – either the Capitol building or the White House in Washington D.C.
Nearly 3,000 would perish at the hands of the Islamic jihadists in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of that terrible day — another day in American history that will live in infamy.
Back in West Virginia, patriotic fervor swept through Logan on that football Friday night just like it was in small towns across the nation.
Americans became more united than ever, attending candle-light vigils and memorials, donating blood and money and buying American flags by the truck load. If you had a flag, you were lucky because you couldn’t find any to buy as local stores sold out all of their stock.
Americans were flying the Stars and Stripes everywhere.
Flags were flapping in the breeze outside of car windows on the Corridor and in downtown Logan.
Logan football tailgaters put flags on the back of their pickup trucks out in the Logan High School parking lot.
Flags were pasted to storeshop windows.
The Red, White and Blue was all over the place — on people’s front porches and also on the Logan High School football field on Sept. 14th.
In a memorable moment in Logan County sports history, members of the Logan High School football team emerged from the locker room — all carrying American flags.
As the Logan band played the LHS Fight Song, the Wildcats huddled behind the school-side goal post and charged onto the field.
Fifty players ran across the field.
All 50 were carrying American flags.
America had suffered a great blow and our lives would never be the same.
It was now a September 12 world.
But on this night, the Logan Wildcats played on and our lives returned to a bit of normalcy — enjoying a high school football game on a beautiful Friday night and cheering for the local team in smalltown America.
“I can’t remember who got credit for getting the flags but I think that (Logan assistant principal) Jan Hanlon had a lot to do with that,” said Barker, who left LHS after the 2003 season to become the head coach at his alma mater Chapmanville High School, a job he still has. “We decided to put flag decals on our helmets for the game. Jan came up with the idea of us carrying little flags out there on the field.”
After the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, Logan County Schools dismissed around noon.
Barker said he told his players to go home, take care of themselves and their families and not to worry about football.
As the day’s events were still unfolding, including the mysterious collapse of World Trade Center Building No. 7, a huge fog-of-war was yet to be lifted.
After meeting with school children in Florida, President Bush hopped aboard Air Force One and touched down at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to address the nation. He then flew to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, the home of the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC), where he was taken around 3 p.m. to an underground command bunker designed to withstand a nuclear blast.
“We didn’t know if this was the start of World War III or what,” Barker said. “I think it was Brenda Skebow who told us that everybody was going to be sent home. I met with the players briefly just to tell them what was going on and I just remember telling them to go home, go to their families and hug everybody there. I told them that if we had an opportunity to come back tomorrow we’d meet and maybe practice the next day. I just remember that no one knew what was going on that day. I remember that there weren’t supposed to be any planes in the sky but we looked up and there would be a plane going across the horizon. I often wondered what plane that was.
“I remember that day well. It was a strange, strange day.”
At the time, Barker’s son, James, now the head coach of the Chapmanville Middle School football team, was a junior member of the Wildcats’ squad. The elder Barker said he remembered his son giving an impassioned speech about the day’s tragic events.
“James gave a speech the day after to the student body at an assembly,” George Barker said. “His speech was real moving. I wish I would have taken a video of that.”
As it turned out, the Logan football team ended up playing Capital and falling 27-14 to the Cougars on Sept. 14, 2001.
The game was close until a late Capital touchdown sealed the deal.
Barker later found out the Cougars had one small advantage that night.
“We came to find out that Capital got to practice that day on September 11,” Barker said. “We missed a defensive day at practice and we got beat in the last minute of the game on a fourth down play. I always wondered if that one day of practice made the difference. Cheese (current Logan assistant Josh Fry) was on that team.”
The sporting world helped Americans heal from the tragedy both locally and nationally.
At the first Chapmanville home football game after 9-11, Tiger players posed for a team picture on the field with a huge American flag. There were also candlelight vigils in the Man area.
The New York Mets made Shea Stadium into a rescue area to hold supplies which would be transported to Ground Zero.
Members of the New York Yankees visited New York City firehouses to assist anyway they could and to help raise morale.
Five days after the attacks, baseball returned as America’s Pastime.
Then only seven weeks later, President Bush, wearing a bullet-proof vest under his jacket, delivered a strike right down the middle in the iconic ceremonial first pitch of the World Series at Yankee Stadium to the chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”
The NFL also helped, too, in the healing process.
After canceling its games the weekend following 9-11, the aptly named New England Patriots and Tom Brady went on to win the Super Bowl over the heavily favored St. Louis Rams.
On the global stage, outpouring of American support and goodwill came from the unlikeliest of places, including Cuba and Iran.
The day after at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II ordered her red-coated Coldstream Guards to break with tradition and play The Star Spangled Banner for the very first time to a crowd of 5,000 on-lookers, some of them American.
After witnessing the moving tribute by the band Jim Lagos, on holiday from West Virginia with his wife Vicki as part of a group of 16, told the London Telegraph: “It was a highly emotional occasion for us. I found out about this from a taxi driver, who said, ‘You know, all us Brits are with you’. It means so much to us. I found it very supportive.”
Coach Barker summed up 9-11 the best.
“Everything else was secondary,” Barker said.