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Privileged to Play on Sept. 11

It’s a day no one will ever forget, and the privilege and honor of representing the United States on Sept. 11 is not lost on the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Less than a month following the terrorist attacks of 2001, the U.S. faced off against Jamaica in a pivotal 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match in front of 40,483 fans at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The U.S. came away with a 2-1 win and clinched a berth to the World Cup as the nation began the healing process from the attacks just weeks earlier.

Now, the U.S. will contest its first match to fall on the anniversary of Sept. 11 – once again against Jamaica in an important 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match – and the importance of the moment was recognized by many on the Men’s National Team.

“It’s something that’s special. It showed that our country has a lot of character and was able to bounce back from that type of situation,” U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey said. “I think people draw strength from that. As players and as a country, we always remember that and the impact it had on everybody’s life. Everybody remembers where they were on that day. You can use it as a positive, as motivation to stay strong and keep fighting.

“It was a tragedy for this country, but we came together and that’s where we got our strength from,” Dempsey said.

Several players took to social media on Tuesday expressing remembrance of the anniversary as well as noting the honor of playing on such an important day in U.S. history. U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron and German-born forward Terrence Boyd were a few of the players speaking out on Twitter on Tuesday.

“It’s a very patriotic day, especially here in Columbus in middle America,” Bocanegra said. “It’ll be a nice feeling. Hopefully, we can do our part to bring a little joy and pride to the country on Sept.11.”

As part of the ceremonies on Tuesday, all in attendance at the sold-out Columbus Crew Stadium will receive American flags and three New York City Fire Department first responders – Captain Joseph Brosi, Battalion Chief Wayman Iriarte and Lieutenant Jason Hickey – will be honored.  The teams will also observe a moment of silence before kickoff.

“It’s such a sad and important time in our country’s history,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “Hopefully, that will spur us on and give us inspiration.”