|James van Riemsdyk proud to be an American amidst bin Laden news||05.02.11 at 11:43 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers have a game to focus on Monday night, but the morning after it was learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed, Philadelphia forward and New Jersey native and former UNH Wildcat James van Riemsdyk couldn’t help but think back to what it was like as a youngster as the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfolded.
“I remember exactly where I was when everything happened,” van Riemsdyk, 21, said Monday. “I remember being in middle school, sixth grade. I think I was at lunch at the time — that’s when we first found out — and they didn’t want to tell us what happened, but there were rumors going around the school, and then we got home. To see all the stuff that had happened, it was just a terrible thing. It was just a very tough time.
“There was a buzz about it, and I think right before I went home, we heard about what happened. I actually had a computer class, and they told us to stay off the Internet, but I was pretty eager and curious to see what happened and go on CNN.com to hear what had happened.”
A friend of van Riemsdyk’s lost his father in the terrorist attacks, as he was at the World Trade Center at the time, while two people from his home town of Middletown, N.J., also were killed.
“There was a big memorial in our town that they did a pretty nice job on,” van Riemsdyk said. “It definitely affected a lot of people close to me. … It was definitely a sad day. A lot of good people died that day, but it’s good that some justice finally came out of it now.”
The winger, who has represented the United States in international play in multiple competitions, including winning the gold with the U.S. under-18 team in 2006, said his father could see the events unfold from where he worked. Frans van Riemsdyk was one of the first people he spoke to Monday morning.
“They saw the second plane come cruising in,” he said. “They thought it was like an accident at first. No one knew what was going on, and then you see this plane take a direct course [toward the World Trade Center]. It was a pretty crazy thing.”
A day after chants of “USA” broke out at Citizens Bank Park during Sunday night’s Phillies-Mets game, JVR can only imagine what the atmosphere will be like for the Flyers’ pregame tradition of “God Bless America,” a duet sung by Lauren Hart with a video of the late Kate Smith.
“The fans and the atmosphere should be great for that part of the game,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a proud day in our history, you could say now, is the day that this guy was brought to justice. At that point last night, I know hockey was put on the back burner for a second there when you kind of think of all the things that have been affected and all the people close to you that maybe lost someone. It’s obviously a good thing that all this came to justice last night.”
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