EAST LANSING - One decade ago football aided in the healing process of a nation trying to return to normalcy following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93.
Ten years later, football will provide a platform for reflection.
"Obviously going forward now, the sporting events serve as a way to stop, press pause, and remember what took place," said Michigan State senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, "and to be thankful for the freedoms that we have and the sacrifices that have been made to give us those freedoms."
A seventh-grader at the time of the attacks, Cousins has a vivid recollection of the events that transpired ten years ago.
"I can remember that afternoon when it happened," recalled Cousins. "Our coaches came into our class and told us that practice would be cancelled, my 7th-grade football practice, and that we needed to go home. That is when we realized the severity of the situation. If football practice was cancelled it was probably a big deal."
Both of his parents, Don Cousins and MaryAnn Cousins, were in airports that day. The Spartan captain's mother was working as a flight attendant for United Airlines on a domestic flight.
"Both of my folks were in airports that day and I believe that my mom was actually in the air and her plane was grounded ," Cousins recalled. "I remember hearing word in class, seeing it on TV, and trying to get in touch with my parents right away to make sure they were safe."
Cousins used a phone in the office at Holland Christian to get in touch with his parents.
"I remember getting through to them," explained the Spartan quarterback. "And if not right away, I remember that she did leave a message because I remember hearing pretty much early in the day, in the morning that my mom and dad were fine."
Cousins' mother has worked in the airline industry for more than 30 years. The Michigan State senior admits that there have been times he wished his mom would retire.
"It hit close to home," Cousins said. "She now flies international. To fly across the ocean and be on those kind of trips and there have been times where I have heard that the terrorist alert has been raised and my mom is flying, so it always hits close to home with me. She was friends with some of the people that were killed on 9/11 as far as flight attendants. It is a tough thing to swallow and it will be a day of remembrance for sure."