Sure, Toshiya Kuge was Japanese, but he loved America. He loved the language, the music, and most of all, the sports. He played linebacker his first year at Washeda University and wore number ninety-five. The next Greg Lloyd perhaps? He would stay up into the middle of the night to catch the American football games live via satellite. And he traveled with the jersey of his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, even bringing it along with him on Flight 93. The plane would go down just 80 miles or so from where his favorite team played.
Perhaps ironically, but certainly fittingly, the Pittsburgh Steelers would show up at the crash site for the memorial service. They probably did not know (and may still not know) that one of the fallen was such a huge Steeler fan. The Steeler players and coaches simply showed up with no fanfare and unassumingly took part in the memorial service in Somerset County. They spoke with some of the victims' families afterwards in response to a request to do so. The Steelers always have been more than a football team and that day they certainly showed it.
Some people may not buy into the Steeler Way and others may not care for the passion Steeler fans show for their team. Whether you believe in it or not, the Steelers reflect their community. The fans, the players, and even the staff are tough, hard-working, and immensely proud. Toshiya Kuge was all these things and embodied the Steeler Way. His last acts on Flight 93 would certainly make any Steeler fan proud and most of us would also like to think we would have acted with a similar courageousness.
The Steelers participating in the memorial service should also make Steeler fans proud. The Steelers are part of a large community that is often compassionate, responsive, and caring. A fellow poster brought the Toshiya Kuge story to our attention feeling that he should be remembered in some way and thought that such a crew that would send flowers to Viking offensive tackle Lewis Kelly after his wife's death would gladly accept the task. This kind of compassion is also part of the Steeler Way. Toshiya Kuge was a part of the Steeler Nation, which is larger than just the United States and extends to fans around the world. On this one year anniversary of his death we remember a fellow fan.