'Let's Never Forget'

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas tailback De'Arrius Howard hasn't forgotten.

And most of his teammates and coaches have pondered the significance of Arkansas' date -- Sept. 11 -- with No. 7 Texas.

The Hogs are busy preparing for Saturday's challenge against the Longhorns, of course, but have taken time to remember those who lost their lives when terrorists attacked the United States in 2001.

"It's going to be a special Saturday and I think it's important that we can carry on," Howard said. "I feel like some of the firemen and some of the people that gave their lives were big sports fans and would want us to carry on in memory of them."

Much of the pregame and halftime ceremonies will commemorate the three-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy as the university will recognize Arkansas military units that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since that dark date. The school also will honor Arkansas military men and women who have lost their lives.

"There's a lot going on (this week), but anytime you say 9-11, immediately, my thoughts go to what happened on that day and what happened to America," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "My heart goes out to the families of our people who put their lives on the line and people that perished that day.

"That's real life. That's the real world."

Looking back, the Southeastern Conference originally intended to carry on and play four days after the tragedy, but SEC officials changed their minds when the rest of the college football schedule was postponed as the country mourned. Nutt and other SEC coaches like Georgia's Mark Richt, LSU's Nick Saban and South Carolina's Lou Holtz said the conference did the right thing in canceling games that weekend.

The Razorbacks practiced on Sept. 11, before the conference canceled all games, to avoid disrupting preparation for their scheduled date with North Texas. In fact, most SEC teams were on the practice field hours after the tragedy.

"We felt kind of helpless to do anything other than try to carry on what we do in America on a daily basis," said Richt, who had just lost his first game as Georgia's coach against South Carolina three days prior. "We went back and forth on whether we should (practice) or whether we shouldn't. Sitting around doing nothing wasn't real good, either, so we decided to practice.

"I was very relieved when they said we weren't going to play that weekend."

Arkansas returned to action on Sept. 22 with a 31-10 loss at Alabama. The Razorbacks and North Texas couldn't reschedule their postponed game, so Arkansas added Weber State to its schedule. On Oct. 6, the Hogs ended their three-game losing streak a 42-19 win over the Division I-AA foe, kicking off a six-game wining streak that propelled the Hogs to the 2002 Cotton Bowl.

Now most of the Razorbacks believe the best way to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, is by playing Saturday night.

"I'm more of a guy that says, 'Let's never forget, but you have to move on,'" said Arkansas running back DeCori Birmingham. "A lot of people that tragically died, a lot of them loved college football. I feel like it's our duty to keep their dreams and their love of the game going. While we're out there, just pay them some respects."

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