Fifteen years since that clear blue day. I was driving to the Employment Service in Elizabeth from Lambertville and as I neared the City I heard the news that an airplane hit a tower at the World Trade Center on Howard Stern's radio show. It wasn't until someone entered the room some time later to announce that a second plane hit the World Trade Center that my mind allowed me to recognize that it must be a terrorist attack. I was not that far from New York City and thought about how many people would need help. Could I do anything to help anyone then? I thought better. My wife would need me at home, if nothing else to show up and be physically OK standing in front of her. I called the office and told Wendy, my boss that I was going home. I could take the New Jersey Turnpike and maybe catch a glimpse of what was happening from a great distance. Or I could take the back route which I took that morning which was the quickest way home. I thought about Shelley and took the back route.
I am lucky in that I didn't lose anyone that day that I knew personally. A friend from High School, Joe got married at St Patrick's Cathedral and had the celebratory luncheon in the Windows on the World. That's about as close as I got. But I had been involved in a number of interfaith activities built around understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a new acquaintance; Rev. Alfred Krass read one of my articles and asked me to join him at an interfaith meeting to discuss how we could do something local that would promote healing on the first anniversary of 9/11. It was an amazing group of clergy and lay leaders and somehow included me. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, those of other faiths and no faith at all came together and collectively though with one brain. We held an event on the banks off the Delaware in Yardley PA and overtime our remembrance morphed into an annual Prayers for Peace service that has been held for more than ten years now on January 1st at the Yardley Quaker Meeting House. There is a formal Remembrance and a Memorial for the Bucks County residents who died that day each year.
It takes a great deal to wrap your arms around the magnitude of what happened, the utter devastation and its impact on America and the world. I won't even try to do that here. I thought about the biographies of those fallen heroes who went to work that day never to return. I have a copy of the New York Times book filled with short bios of so many victims. I haven't been to the memorial in New York City yet. I started to think about the names, 2996 names lovingly engraved into the stone remembrance at the north and south pools beneath the Freedom Tower. From Gordon M. Aamoth Jr. alphabetically to Igor Zukelman with thousands standing at attention each year for the reading of their Fathers, Mothers , Daughters, Sons, Brothers, Sisters, Best Friends name. I thought about just writing the names and realized that I lack the space. So I looked up Gordon McCannel Aamoth Jr., (Gordy), born August 8, 1969, died September 11, 2001:
Gordy Aamoth, 32, was from Minnesota where his father is an orthopedic surgeon in Wayzata. He was born at Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach, FL to Mary and Dr. Gordon Aamoth, and he has two brothers Erik and Peter. He was an investment banker at Sandler O'Neill & Partners and according to the profile published in The New York Times, he had just landed a big merger deal for Sandler O'Neill in Minneapolis. Gordy's brother Erik said that Gordy had wanted to be an investment banker since high school, watching the movie Wall Street. In an Associated Press interview, Erik said, "My family and I will always remember the day of September 11th, praying for a phone call that never came."
"Another memorial is in Gordy Aamoth's hometown. The athletic young bachelor had been the captain of his high school football team at The Blake School in Hopkins, Minnesota. After he was killed in World Trade Center, The Blake School decided to name its new football field "The Gordy Aamoth Memorial Stadium." Next to the football stadium is Spirit Plaza, a stunning memorial to the victims of 9/11 dedicated on September 11, 2002. Spirit Plaza includes a 500 pound steel beam from 2 WTC, the South Tower where Gordy worked. The memorial plaque at Spirit Plaza says that the beam, which was "originally atop the 110-story building" was "one of the first to hit the ground, crashing through the avenue and coming to rest in the subway below while the top remained thrust above street level." The beam was given to the Aamoth family by the City of New York.
I thought that I'd select a few to represent the overwhelming number of people who died on that fall day. But that's not the way it worked out. The RIP notice and description of Gordon Aamouth's memorial led me to a list of American and international memorials which you can view at; http://www.waymarking.com/cat/details.aspx?f=1&guid=68f820ea-8a56-4cbc-a769-ac79d80581a4 .
I looked down the first page of the link to memorials and noticed one in Ireland; 9/11 Memorial Garden - Ringfinnan Kinsale, Ireland:
Kathleen Cait Murphy, originally from Kinsale, was a nurse in New York City for over 30 years. While in New York, she came to admire the firemen of the city and was shocked at the deaths of 343 of their number who died in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. She was still a land owner in Ringfinnan, just south west of Kinsale and decided to provide a memorial in the form of a garden, with a tree for each fireman who died in the line of duty that day. There were 343 in total and each tree now bears a small sign naming one of the 343 firemen. For more go to Kinsale Remembers; http://www.kinsaleheritage.com/911.html .