NEW YORK — From coast to coast, American flags as large as football fields were unfurled inside stadiums and fans of all ages sang the national anthem with gusto Sunday in a red-white-and-blue observance marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and start of the country’s most popular sport: the NFL.
Robin Berretta, wearing a blue Giants No. 27 Brandon Jacobs jersey, traveled from New York to Landover, Md., for the game at the Washington Redskins. Some of her friends suggested she shouldn’t attend.
“Everyone’s very paranoid,” Berretta said. “And they’re not even from New York.”
She was unfazed, saying, “I even took the Metro.”
In presentations relayed to video screens around the league, “Taps” was played from Shanksville, Pa., where one of the hijacked jets crashed a decade earlier, and Arlington National Cemetery. A recorded message from actor Robert DeNiro was broadcast on videoboards reminding fans that “we honor those brave men and women by continuing to show our unity and strength as a country.”
“This is a chance for everyone to come together and feel great about our country,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during the Fox telecast of the Giants-Redskins game.
Former President George W. Bush praised the rescue workers of that day in a televised pregame show segment before the openers.
Before the start of the U.S. Open’s women’s final at Arthur Ashe Stadium, a “9/11/01” logo was painted next to the blue court. Serena Williams, who was scheduled to play Australia’s Sam Stosur, tweeted: “My Thoughts and prayers to all who lost loved ones on 9-11. I know the entire country is with you today. I’m playing for you today.”
Pregame ceremonies were followed by moments of silence at Major League Baseball parks.
At the Nationals game in Washington, two red, white and blue logos were painted on the field in foul territory along the base lines, with the date “September 11, 2001” and the words: “We shall not forget.”
“Frankly, I was a little bit skittish with regard to coming out to a ballpark and large gathering of people with feelings of how scared we were 10 years ago,” said Joe Bailey, a 40-year-old fan from Bethesda. “I think as part of our resolve, it’s to go ahead and continue on in the American way.”