For the longest time, every year on the anniversary of 9/11, I tried to write some sort of piece on the blog. The last one of any real substance I wrote was on the 15th anniversary. I opened up that blog back in 2016 in a similar fashion - explaining that I always tried to take on a different angle or tackle a different subject related to those attacks to keep it fresh and find some meaning. Well on the 15th year, the piece I wrote was about how "Never Forget" was beginning to become a cliche. A hashtag or a catch phrase that people say but the dont really follow those words or live up to them. For a multitude of reasons - one reason being there were high school students, and even college students, who had zero recollection of that day. How can you expect young adults to "Never Forget" when its something they cant even remember? And then also the more shallow reasons - that people just move on with their life and the wounds begin to heal and the pain dissipates and people, either intentionally or unintentionally, no longer remember and honor those that died that day.
Now fast forward 5 more years, and thats more true than ever. You legitimately have to be close to 30 years old to be able to "Never Forget." Its no longer just kids that werent around and/or cognizant for 9/11, its adults and functioning members of society who really only learned about that day through textbooks and TVs. Business people and doctors and lawyers and even some young politicians who dont really have any vivid memories or their own personal feelings or opinions on that fateful day. Now, that part...that part is understandable. Thats just what happens. And after decades and decades, 9/11 becomes like December 7th - a day that people know the date of, but dont really have any emotional connection to. That part, while sad, I'm ok with. Thats life.
Its the other shit that pisses me off. Fucking Evander Holyfield fighting in some dumb publicity stunt boxing match with goddam Donald Trump announcing the fight this Saturday. On the motherfucking 20th ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11TH! Something like that obviously would never happen in the first years after the attacks, and plain & simple, its happening now because people don't care and they are forgetting. And on top of that shitshow boxing circus, the world just feels like its filled with assholes and trolls who spend their lives fighting on social media and pledging allegiance to fucking silly movie script conspiracy theories on message boards while they root for a political party with the same ignorant passion they would a sports franchise. Its downright embarrassing to be a part of this version of society these days.
So thats where this special mini documentary came from. I knew I wanted to do something for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and I knew I wanted it to be something that would resonate deep enough to make people feel something about 9/11, not just remember it. Something that would potentially make people change their behavior - even if just for a couple hours. Log off of twitter for a bit, stay off of Reddit, stop arguing with a member of the other party, etc, for a little while and consume a piece of content that would help you appreciate what happened 20 years ago, how we all reacted and behaved in the aftermath - as one, single, cohesive and empathetic society - and recognize how far we have fallen. And in order to do that, I turned to the people who I know that have the single most emotional and impactful 9/11 story:
Annie and Mike McCarthy.
I wanted Annie to tell the story of how she lost her father - Ric Harvey, Large's boss on the trading floor and eventual father in law. And how she also lost his brother in law, Robert Twomey. And Robert Sutcliffe. And Patrick Dickinson and his brother-in-law, Thomas Sullivan. And Michael Pascuma, Jr. ,and Rudy Bacchus. And Michael Tamuccio, Annie's dad’s best friend and John Schroeder, Large's best pal.
Thats a long list, folks. A LONG list. And not that this is a competition about "who had it worse?" but I really dont know of any family who lost nine loved ones on September 11th. I really dont know of anybody who had the task of trying to keep a small family trading floor operation going to try to continue to pay out 6 widows and support kids that lost their fathers - all while grieving the loss of your father and uncles and best friends. The loss Annie and Large suffered that day is truly unimaginable, and the struggle which they were tasked with in the face of such heartbreak is astounding.
On top of that uniquely tragic set of circumstances, Annie and Large are two of the best story tellers and conversationalists I know. So while the subject matter is harrowing and I'm sure certainly painful to live through again, I knew if they were up for it, that they could create a truly special piece of human interest content for the people on the anniversary 2 decades later. I knew if they wanted to participate, and we did it right, that we actually were capable of making a special piece of content that would achieve that goal of making people feel 9/11, not just simply remember.
So we sat down for a couple hours earlier this week. Annie brought a box of family relics from back in 2001. Notepads and cards and what not which included pages upon pages of their writings. Ranging from funeral notes for her father's eulogy, to her plans to keep running the family business, to all the information they could learn about the towers and if anyone survived. She brought video footage of her father, and her son reading the names at the Memorial, and news clips, and everything that we could put into this video to make the viewer truly understand the scope and emotion of 9/11 and what the Harvey/McCarthy clans went through that day. And then once we began talking, and Annie and Mike began doing what they do best - story telling and painting such a vivid picture, I knew this was gonna be magic. I knew that this video would not only help people feel and grieve, but also maybe acknowledge that the way things are currently going around here - all the fighting and arguing and cancelling and the bi-partisan bullshit that is tearing us apart in a way that an enemy like Al-Qaeda would probably love to see - that maybe we should change that behavior.
But upon completing this project (which, by the way, quick shout out to Nick Hamilton, Jackie, and Mike - a team of people who took an conversation on Tuesday afternoon and by Friday afternoon turned it into like an award winning level mini documentary), I realized I had achieved something entirely different. Something I never intended, something I didnt even know was possible. But during our conversation, Large mentioned how he and Annie had never really discussed what happened on that day until 2018, when he penned his famous 9/11 Reflection Blog. And that even that conversation was never really a fully comprehensive retelling of what they lived through as a couple. I was floored. I know each of them, and I know them as a married entity. They are one of the most inspirational married couples I know. I look to them as the blueprint for how to strive for a happy and solid marriage. They still have the most fun out of any couple I know. They share in each other's lives and professions. Raise their kids as a team, tackle everything as a well oiled machine, and let me tell you what - can drink any other husband and wife duo under the fucking TABLE. I thought they were open books to each other. I could not BELIEVE they had never talked about what they each went through that day. I mean, I can, because they are Irish Catholics who just shove their feelings deep into their toes...but as the Gold Standard Husband And Wife...the Top Level Mom and Dad...the man and woman that I look up to the most here at Barstool, I was stunned they hadnt talked to each other...
...until this conversation with me. Afterwards the both separately told me how they had never shared and opened up with each other that much until this conversation. Large said if this was a few years ago he would have never agreed to it in the first place. And Annie said to me that it was long overdue and tremendously cathartic for them to talk about it this way. And after hearing that I realized that maybe I didnt start out with my goal being to let Annie and Mike bare their souls to each other while being generous and strong enough to share it with the world, but after the fact thats what I'm most proud of.
Earlier today Annie and I were DMing and she said she didnt get a chance to say everything she felt about Large during that conversation, but that if I had somewhere I could say that for her publicly, to please do so. She described Large as a rockstar in the aftermath and said that she was a shell of what she was before that day. She said to me, and I quote, "I wouldn't be here, alive with a conscience or a soul, without him. He saved my life. He's beyond extraordinary".
So I very proudly say that publicly for her, about him. I'm just happy that this special episode allowed them to connect with each other on a way that they maybe never have before. They are my favorite couple in this circus life we call Barstool. They are like an older sister and older brother who play mom and dad if you need help but who will also get you fucked up and show you a good time. And the fact that this project might have helped them grieve and go through a much overdue catharsis and maybe become an even closer couple? Well thats more than enough for me. If the public feels something from this and is effected by it, thats just icing on the cake. I'm just happy Annie and Large did.