All-day Wednesday, events around the country have been honoring the lives that were lost in the September 11th terrorist attacks, and those who died fighting terrorism in its wake.
One such event took place before a soccer game at Century High School.
As the Diamondbacks were preparing to take on the Jerome Tigers, a moment of silence was held for the 9/11 victims, followed by a brief ceremony to honor former Diamondbacks Nicholas Gummersall and Blake Stephens, both killed in action.
Stephens’ parents, Trent and Kathleen, were in attendance and still remember that fateful day.
“9/11 is what changed my son’s life,” Kathleen said.
At the time of the attacks, Blake was in Belgium serving his LDS mission.
“And when that happened, his military mentality came into play and he was just like ‘I gotta get home, I gotta get in there,'” Kathleen explained.
Trent says his son called him that week to inform him of his plans to join the Army.
“Back in those days, they couldn’t call home every week, but he called home immediately,” Trent said.”He went to his mission president, he said I gotta go home.”
His parents and the mission president tried to talk him into staying. But in December of that year, he made his way back to the states.
“Then he went, finished his National Guard and went right into active duty in the Army. That’s where he wanted to be,” Kathleen said. “That’s what took him, but maybe it was his time.”
Sitting on the sidelines, thinking back to the day that changed everything, the family can’t believe how long it’s been.
“For me, it was as though it was yesterday,” Trent said. “Until I look at these young ladies out here [and] realize that, again, they weren’t even born.”
And even though it’s been more than a decade since Blake was killed, they still miss the little things, like the music he would listen to and the seat at the table where he could always be found.
Among the many things Trent remembers about his son, a particular phone call sticks with him.
“He called us up and he said ‘guess what happened today.’ And I said ‘the police showed up?’ and he said ‘no, better than that.’ I said ‘the FBI showed up? No, better than that. they closed down the whole Salt Lake airport because of my belt buckle,'” Trent said with a smile. “But, the bad thing was they blew up his suitcase and his wife was not happy,” Kathleen added.
The Stephens family hopes that people will not forget what has happened and that they’ll stand up for what is right, the way they say Blake would have.