|Pieces from the World Trade Center|
On this 12th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, I’ve been thinking back to when I was in Fifth Grade. Sitting across the aisle from me was a shy curly-haired boy named Kevin. I wasn’t exactly an extrovert either in those days (hard to believe, huh?) but somehow the two of us developed a friendship. It may have started out when we had to pass our homework papers across the aisle for our classmates to check arithmetic and English answers as the teacher outlined them on the blackboard.
As time went by, we used to whisper to each other and pass notes about our teacher, Mrs. S., who frankly spent a lot of time telling us stories about the squirrels and birds she fed every morning, and the trips she took in the summer with her husband who was a pilot for TWA. On the half day of school before the Christmas recess, she set up a slide projector in the back of the room and showed us pictures of her trip to Egypt the past summer. This is my first real memory of seeing pyramids and hieroglyphics and the best part was seeing our teacher in shorts riding a camel!
Kevin and I exchanged a lot of furtive glances and grins while watching the slides. As we marched out of the classroom that day, I caught up with him and said something like “Boy, were those slides neat! I want to go to Egypt one day and climb those pyramids.” Kevin nodded and said, “Me, too!”
Summer eventually arrived and since Kevin and I lived in different parts of town, I didn’t see him over the summer, and that fall he wasn’t in my class. I frankly don’t remember him from my junior high classes either and then I went on to an all-girls Catholic high school and that Fifth Grade friendship faded from my memory.
Until September 11, 2001. In the days and weeks that followed, pictures and stories of victims from my old hometown and the Parish schools I had attended filled page after page of New York Newsday. A short bio of one victim in particular caught my attention and jogged my memory—it was Kevin, my buddy from the Fifth Grade. The story described how he had phoned home from his office above where one of the jets had struck his tower that morning to say “goodbye.” In the middle of the conversation he screamed and then there was the sound of a deafening crash.
I don’t know if he ever made that trip to Egypt, I know I still haven’t gotten there and with the political situation these days I don’t have much desire to go. But I’d like to have a time machine to go back to those innocent childhood days when even in our wildest nightmares we never would have envisioned what the future held—that a shy little boy would one day fall to his death from a burning skyscraper destroyed perhaps by the descendants of those ancient Middle Eastern cultures that had so fascinated us as children.
We Will Never Forget:
2,606 lost in the World Trade Center
125 lost in the Pentagon
40 lost in Pennsylvania aboard Flight 93
343 FDNY Firefighters
23 NYPD Officers
37 Port Authority Police Officers