10 September 2006

Remembering 9/11 one victim at a time

Well, I was too late to the party to get in on the 2,996 effort to honor the victims of 9/11, so here's my tribute...

Remembering 9/11 one victim at a time

In the next few days you’ll hear a lot about the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11. I’d like to tell you about just two of them, two people whose names I look for every time I see a list of the casualties. Let me tell you about Ted’s wife and Ryan and Dylan’s dad.

Barbara Olson started out as a ballerina and ended up as a famous lawyer. She danced with the San Francisco Ballet and the Harkness Ballet in New York City, then moved on to Hollywood because working as an assistant producer would allow her to save up for law school. She worked for Stacy Keach’s production company and HBO before going to Yeshiva University. She eventually served as an Assistant U.S. attorney and as chief investigative counsel for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, where she looked into Travelgate and Filegate. After the publication of her bestseller “Hell to Pay” she became a frequent guest on TV political shows to represent the conservative point of view.

Her husband Ted said she was a popular guest because she was “very direct” but at the same time “very pleasant.” She could disagree without a trace of rancor, a sunny smile on her beautiful face. But she wasn’t just a talking head. “She was always full of energy, sparkling all the time,” her husband told Newsday, adding that “his three small granddaughters would follow her around ‘like little ducks’” and “thought she was the best thing in the world.”

Barbara was on Flight 77 because she had shifted her schedule to spend more time with Ted for his birthday. He talked to her just before she died. Ted Olson was the Solicitor General at the time, and she called to tell him they’d been hijacked, asking him what she should tell the pilot. They had time to discuss personal matters and reassure each other, and then, he said, “the connection was broken.” Not long after that, Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.

John Moran also had an ambition to be a lawyer and held a law degree from Fordham University. But firefighting was the family business and more suited to his personality, so he joined the FDNY. In an irony that must be especially painful for her, John met his wife Kim on September 11, 1990. His fire station was across the street from her apartment. “I just fell in love with him instantly,” she said a few days after his death, while she and their sons, 7 year old Ryan and 4 year old Dylan, were still hoping he’d come home.

John didn’t have to be in the World Trade Center that day. A Battalion Chief with 22 years of service, he was part of the department’s Special Operations Command, which oversees special rescue companies, fireboats, hazmat units and major incidents. He had just finished a shift, but when the call came in, he “jumped in the truck and away they went,” Kim said.

John’s funeral was conducted by his uncle, Father Paul Moran. John was lost he said, on “a mission of love.” Mayor Giuliani asked for the mourners to give John a standing ovation and said he wanted the Moran boys “to understand for their entire life that their father is a great man.” His brother Michael, a firefighter who survived serving at the Trade Center—and later became famous for defiantly telling Osama bin-Laden to come to Rockaway and kiss his “royal Irish ass”—said “I didn't see him there that day, but now I see him all the time.”

But the best eulogy a man could ask for was what his relatives told Newsday just a few days after his death. Kim Moran said, “He's the love of my life…a wonderful father, a great husband. There's nobody more generous than John.” His cousin, Democrat Congressman Joe Crowley described him as “a Viking Irishman who has calves thicker than my thighs, the heart of lion and touch of a teddy bear.”

I picked John and Barbara because they were both members of Free Republic, an internet forum I’ve posted to for years, but I didn’t know either of them. I didn’t even cross paths with them and “know” them even in the online sense, as far as I know. But that’s irrelevant. I could have picked any of those we lost that day and found something glorious or generous or beautiful about them that would have amazed you the way John’s bravery and Barbara’s joy amaze me.

We didn’t lose almost 3,000 people that day. We lost one wonderful person at a time, almost 3,000 times.

In a sense, Giuliani was right when he said, on that bright September afternoon, that we had lost “more than we can bear.”


At 4:25 AM, Anonymous Jennie said...

beautifully written thank you for filling in another peice of the puzzle that was 3000 amazing lives

At 8:11 AM, Blogger The Wooden Porch said...

Beautiful story. Thank you for posting this.

I saw you posted my story on another website. I had to change part of it this morning, because I didn't get the facts just right. It's corrected now and though the names have been changed, it's 100% true.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Jennie and Wooden Porch, thank you for your gracious comments. Wooden, I will advise the Freepers of what you've told me here. I figured it was true, but you know how the blogosphere is...Thanks for the update.


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