If only I could have grabbed the sky.
That September morning.
Ten years ago.
It was a beautiful fall day, clean cool air, leaves just starting to turn on the block I live on.
And a sky of blue.
I’m a sky blue fan. Always notice the sky when it is just all blue. Growing up in Buffalo, at the cloud end of Lake Erie, a cloudless sky made you look up.
I still do. Look up. Marvel in the blue. The universe, unwrapped.
And look up I did, on 9/12â€¦at the bright blue sky. And wished as tears formed in my eyes, as tears ran down the face of those around me, ran down the face of Americaâ€¦.
â€¦ wished that on the day before, I could have reached into the sky and rescued United Airline Flight 175. Saved the 65 passengers on board that plane.
Saved those sitting at their desks working in the North & South Towers.
And I could have saved them had I been able to grab the sky.
I know I could have because when the flight path UA 175 was published, to my horror I saw that its path took it over Connecticut.
And damn near, right over my part of Connecticut.
If only â€¦
â€¦ on 9/11, I grabbed the sky.
“â€¦all my troubles seemed so far awayâ€¦.”
I want you to listen to this phone call that came to an Easton, Conn. dad:
â€œIt’s getting bad, Dad. A stewardess was stabbed. They seem to have knives and Mace. They said they have a bomb. It’s getting very bad on the plane. Passengers are throwing up and getting sick. The plane is making jerky movements. I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane. I think we are going down. I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building. Don’t worry, Dad. If it happens, it’ll be very fast….Oh my God… oh my God, oh my God.â€
The phone call ended with a woman’s scream.
The phone call was from passenger Peter Hanson to his father Lee Hanson, who lives not far away from our town in Connecticut. On board UA 175 with Peter were his wife Sue and their 2 ½ year old daughter, Christine.
On the memorial website for Peter, Sue & Christine, last year his mother, Eunice, wrote this:
“Peter, I still feel the terrible pain that went through my whole being when Dad, holding the phone heard your last words. As the plane banked and crashed into that tower and exploded in a burst of flame, I screamed, I knew that all the joys we had together, all the love, care and good times we shared all the dreams and hopes we had were goneâ€¦”
â€¦on 9/11, I grabbed the sky.
“â€¦now it looks as though they’re here to stayâ€¦”
At his desk in the North Tower offices of Cantor Fitzpatrick, 35 year old bond trader Donald Gavagan could probably see the waters of the Hudson River and beyond from the office windows of the firm that took up the 101st through 103rd floors of the building.
Two floors above where AA Flight 11 hit.
657 of Donald’s co-workers were killed that day in the attacks.
Donald Gavagan was like you. A hard working stiff who loved his family, who also loved to fished. A guy who was about to buy a 31ft Chris Craft so he could fish with his wife and young family.
Jackie Gavagan, his wife, in a published news story two years after his death said she takes their children to the beach where Donald loved to fish, and they build sand castles there and take his jeep for a spin with the kids.
Donald is survived by twins, Lara & Donald III.
And by his youngest son, Connor.
A son, he never met.
Connor was born six weeks after 9/11 on October 23, 2001.
A son, born to an angler, who will never be able to fish with his dad.
And it is for that reason, I don’t just â€œrememberâ€ 9/11 â€¦
â€¦ I never forget it.
Neither should you.
It wasn’t America that got attacked.
It was you.
You in Alabama.
You in Arkansas.
You in Georgia.
Chicagoâ€¦Los Angelesâ€¦Buffaloâ€¦St. Louisâ€¦Fresnoâ€¦
â€¦ and if there is a Mayberry out there, especially that small town.
Rural you. City you. Suburban you.
The attackers came for you. Be you in those buildings or not.
Be you in the Pentagon or not.
Be you in the Pennsylvania field.
Don’t sit back and think this was a New York City or Washington, D.C. thing. Make no mistake, they came for you.
The came for US!
The American way.
The flew through a Norman Rockwell Fall Painting on a clear blue picture perfect New England Day.
On the best of days, they brought the worst.
On the best of days, they came for one thingâ€¦to take away our freedom and all that is America.
They came looking for you, and found 3,000 others. Three thousand of your neighbors no matter where you live. Pull up the lists of victims, take the time to go to Ground Zero and read the names yourself.
Executives â€¦ Clerks â€¦ Window Cleaners.
Police â€¦ fire fighters â€¦ security guards.
Men. Women. Children.
Don’t remember them; never forget them.
Which is why I have listed those killed in the attacks from just Connecticut alone.
Listed them, because these were my neighbors.
As far as I know, I didn’t know a one of them.
But knew them all.
As do you.
They are us.
This upcoming week you will see a lot of stories asking you to remember the horror of 9/11 â€¦ I’m asking that in fact you never forget it, because 9/11 is with us each and every day.
Not just on its anniversary.
You see the faces of 9/11 â€¦ today. Yesterday, tomorrow, in your office, where you shop, the street you live on, where you pray.
For those wanting to attack us, everyday is 9/11.
Here’s those, my neighbors, who died for you.
Who would still be here â€¦
â€¦ if on that fall day â€¦
â€¦ I could have grabbed the sky.
Laurence Abel * Bryan C. Bennett * Jeffrey D. Bittner * Christopher Joseph Blackwell * Allen Patrick Boyle * Alexander Braginsky * Frank H. Brennan * Thomas M. Brennan * Edward Calderon * Sandra Patricia Campbell * James Christopher Cappers * Christopher Carstanjen * Juan Armando Ceballos * Stephen Patrick Cherry * Geoffrey W. Cloud * Scott Thomas Coleman * Keith Eugene Coleman * Margaret Mary Conner * Kevin P. Connors * Joseph J. Coppo Jr. * Dolores Marie Costa * Brian Thomas Cummins * Paul Dario Curioli * John Bruce Eagleson * Michael Egan * Ulf Ramm Ericson * Eric Brian Evans * Wendy R. Faulkner * Edward T. Fergus Jr. * Bradley James Fetchet * John Fiorito * Bennett Lawson Fisher * Peter Christian Fry * Richard P. Gabriel Sr. * Richard S. Gabrielle * Osseni Mama Garba * James Andrew Gadiel * Thomas Edward Galvin * Christopher Gardner * Peter Alan Gay * Peter Gelinas * Robert J. Gerlich * Lawrence Daniel Getzfred * Evan H. Gillette * Ronald Gilligan * Steven Lawrence Glick * Wilder Gomez * Kiran Kuman Gopu * Edwin John Graf III * Donald F. Greene * James Arthur Greenleaf Jr. * Pedro Grehan * The Rev. Francis E. “Frank” Grogan * James D. Halvorson * Sean Hanley * Christine Lee Hanson * Peter Hanson * Susan Hanson * Timothy John Hargrave * Michele Heidenberger * Howard Joseph Heller Jr. * John Henwood * Robert D. Higley II * James L. Hobin * Judith Florence Hofmiller * Paul R. Hughes * William C. Hunt * Thomas E. Hynes * John F. Iskyan * Michael Grady Jacobs * Mark Jardim * Robert Thomas Jordon * Richard M. Keane * Maurice Patrick Kelly * William Hill Kelly Jr. * Amy R. King * Glenn Davis Kirwin * Stephen LaMantia * Gary E. Lasko * Robert A. Lawrence * Joseph A. Lenihan * Adam J. Lewis * Garry Lozier * Michael J. Lyons * Edward Francis “Teddy” Maloney III * Ada L. Mason * Kevin M. McCarthy * Juliana Valentine McCourt * Ruth Magdaline McCourt * Eamon J. McEneaney * Michael Gregory McGinty * Francis Noel McGuinn * William J. Meehan Jr. * Raymond J. Metz III * Joel Miller * Michael Matthew Miller * Cheryl Ann Monyak * Lindsay S. Morehouse * Jude Joseph Moussa * Cesar Augusto Murillo * Christopher William Murphy * Daniel R. Nolan * Robert Walter Noonan * Scott J. O’Brien * Timothy Michael O’Brien * James Andrew O’Grady * Christopher Orgielewicz * Margaret Orloske * Thomas Anthony Palazzo * James Matthew Patrick * Michel Adrian Pelletier * Joshua Piver * Jean Roger * Sean Rooney * Michael Craig Rothberg * James M. Roux * Jason E. Sabbag * Jesus Sanchez * Stacey Leigh Sanders * Sean Schielke * John Schwartz * Randolph Scott * Michael John Simon * Heather Lee Smith * Dianne Bulls Snyder * Gregory T. Spagnoletti * George E. Spencer III * Derek James Statkevicus * Craig William Staub * Madeline Sweeney * Michael C. “Mac” Tarrou * Thomas F. Theurkauf Jr. * Eric Raymond Thorpe * Amy Elizabeth Toyen * Tyler V. Ugolyn * Jonathan J. Uman * Allen V. Upton * Bradley H. Vadas * Edward Raymond Vanacore * Frederick T. Varacchi * James Thomas `’Muddy” Waters Jr. * Candace Lee Williams * John Williamson * David H. Winton * Christopher W. Wodenshek * Martin P. Wohlforth * John Bentley Works * Edward P. York * Charles A. Zion
“â€¦oh, I believe in yesterday.”
RIP my friends; we will never forget.