Americans will ever forget the events of September 11, 2001, when our country was under attack by terrorists, and the Steelers want to make sure that the heroes from that day are also never forgotten.
Former running back Rocky Bleier and Steelers President Art Rooney II hosted the Forty for Forty Dinner at Heinz Field to benefit the Flight 93 National Memorial, honoring those who were lost that day.
"The Steelers organization, the Steelers family is honored to host the families and continue a connection that started on Sept. 14 when our team and coaches took a trip to Somerset and took part in a prayer service that night," Rooney said during the dinner. "We had no expectation except to attend the service and offer some prayers. Some of the family members were there met with some of our players, and a connection was made that continues.
"The Steelers family has been honored to be a part of the effort to get the memorial built and make sure we remember the heroes that took the actions on Flight 93 that started the fight against terrorism."
The dinner brought together 40 former Steelers players to support the families of the 40 passengers who were lost on Flight 93 that went down in Shanksville, Pa., just an hour away from Pittsburgh.
"You remember where you were and what you were doing that day," said Bleier. "I was overwhelmed by emotion. What I saw that day on live television was devastating. When I went to Shanksville a few years later, I didn't sense tragedy in the air, I sensed triumph in that quiet place. The passengers and crew of Flight 93 didn't give up without a fight."
"If you look at it in a period of time, in all of the confusion that took place that day, there was only one able to take a proactive approach – those 40 on that flight reacting to that act of terrorism and taking their own fate into their hand. It's a characteristic of what this country is about. They need to be recognized and their spirit needs to always be remembered."
For Ken Nacke, who lost his brother Joey Nacke on Flight 93, the dinner was special for many reasons. His brother was a Steelers fan, so the former players on hand raising money for the completion of the memorial means everything to him.
"There is nothing that will ever bring Joey back," said Nacke. "The 40 heroes of Flight 93 need to be remembered, cherished and honored for years to come because you can imagine what they did in a short period of time. Instead of building the Flight 93 Memorial, just imagine if that plane reached the intended target and we are raising funds to build a U.S. Capitol or White House.
"The world is a better place because of what Joey and the 40 people on that flight did that day."