NEW YORK CITY, New York Jeff Woody was a fifth-grade student in his Four Mile Elementary classroom when the Twin Towers collapsed after a terrorist attack, forever changing Woody and the world around him.
Wednesday, the Iowa State sophomore running back recalled those moments as he gazed at the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan where those buildings once stood. Woody and his teammates toured Ground Zero and the monuments etched in the memory of the 2,983 people who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011 and in a previous World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
"Seeing there's a building that big used to be standing here with every name on this board holding it, there's no context to be put in," he said somberly. "There's nothing that's been done before like this.
"I'm getting choked up about this because this is 3,000 people's grave site and feeling lucky to have what I have and having the families and the relationships that you do have and having the friends you have on the team knowing you could be at work like these people were and not knowing what's going to happen next."
Iowa State defensive end Jake Lattimer had a similar feeling as Woody and called the memorial "breathtaking."
"It's something you have to be there to experience and understand because just seeing it on TV and listening to people's stories it doesn't quite capture the experience as being here personally," he said.
The players toured the outdoor memorial in 35-degree temperatures with winds gusting at around 40 m.p.h. There are two reflecting pools located in the former towers' footprint. Each victim's name is printed along the memorial, which opened to the public on Sept. 12, 2011.
Looking at those names gave Woody pause and a chance to reflect on his own life.
"Thank you Lord for what I have," he said. "If you just take a moment to stop and look at this and just stop and think about what's good in your life and what you love and what you have and just thinking of what these people had to go through in the last moments of their lives not knowing what's going to be missed ..."