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Posts tagged: September 11

We remember

While we are pacing politically over Syria, we recall the terror on our own soil 12 years ago. Threats, evil and grief linger. On this anniversary, we do well to pause, to hold in our hearts the struggle and pain still felt among survivors and heroes of that terrible day. 

In the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, The Port of Seattle Police Department sold hats to raise money for the Port Authority Police Department Benevolent Fund in New York/New Jersey. That department lost 37 officers in the attacks.  Each hat had the name of one officer who died Sept. 11. At the time, my husband was part of the POSPD canine unit; he bought a hat with the name Sirius on it. Sirius was the PAPD police dog killed at the World Trade Center. My husband also bought a hat for me with the name Paul Jurgens on it. Paul's children are now grown - young adults I have never met, but I wear a hat with their father's name on it. The hat has become a sacred object of remembrance of one man's heroic gesture:  saving others' lives as he sacrificed his own.

This week, we remember those who died…and their loved ones who remain. May somehow our world find its way to peace.

(S-R archive photo: A flag placed in a name at the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero.)

Roll Call of Remembrance

 Port Authority Police, who were the first law enforcement personnel to respond to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, quickly rushed into the burning buildings and helped to rescue thousands of employees. Some of them climbed high up into the burning towers to assist those who were seriously injured or trapped.

Thirty-seven of these heroic men and women were killed that day. Following are the 37 police personnel killed in the line of duty that day:

Officer Christopher C. Amoroso 

Officer Maurice V. Barry   

Officer Liam Callahan

Lieutenant Robert D. Cirri      

Officer Clinton Davis       

Officer Donald A. Foreman

Officer Gregg J. Froehner   

Officer Thomas E. Gorman 

Officer Uhuru G. Houston

Officer George G. Howard

 Officer Stephen Huczko    

Inspector Anthony P. Infante Jr.

Officer Paul W. Jurgens    

Sergeant. Robert M. Kaulfers 

Officer Paul Laszczynski

Officer David P. Lemagne    

Officer John Lennon   

Officer J.D. Levi

Officer James F. Lynch    

Superintendent of Police Fred V. Morrone

Captain Kathy Mazza             

Officer Walter A. McNeil  

Officer Donald J. McIntyre

Officer Joseph M. Navas  

Officer James Nelson      

Officer Alfonse J. Niedermeyer

Officer James W. Parham    

Officer Dominick A. Pezzulo 

Officer Bruce A. Reynolds

Officer Antonio J. Rodrigues   

Officer Richard Rodriguez   

Chief James A. Romito

Officer John P. Skala     

Officer Walwyn W. Stuart 

Officer Kenneth F. Tietjen

Officer Nathaniel Webb       

Officer Michael T. Wholey

And Sirius, a police dog, was also killed.

Today, we pause and remember…

Sept 11, 2001 our story

I left for work…turned on the radio … heard the news of the first plane hitting the tower…My mind raced, “Where is everyone in our family?!” Oh, God! Jim is in Manhattan! My brother-in-law, based in London, was in New York this week. I returned home… screamed to my husband… checked the email. No messages…I called my sister in London…no answer. Called my dad..”Haven't heard from her, Cathy, but mark my words. This is the beginning of war.” Dad had served in WWII, after Pearl Harbor…In London my young nephew had been watching cartoons…  “Mom, the cartoons went away… a plane crashed in New York…” She watched in horror. No  answer on her husband's cell phone…She called the  school where her two other sons were…”we will keep the students safe… come now.” She did. The school staff had formed a protective human shield in front of the school. She ushered her two older sons into the car…warily raced home…wondering if Americans world-wide were targets.  As she dashed up the steps at home, her cell phone rang…Soon an e-mail arrived at my home: “Jim is safe…he was walking down the street with a co-worker, debris started falling from the sky…people panicking..a police officer… banging on a locked post office door…the door opened. Jim is safe inside.”  He stayed there…called her again…when he witnessed the second plane hitting the second tower. ..  

…Jim and his co-worker returned to his hotel….. they watched the coverage on television… when the power went out, he packed a few belongings into a garbage bag…walked through the chaos…to the edge of the destroyed area…found a cab to another hotel…where he stayed until Sunday when flights to London resumed… 

For one hour…we lived in anguished horror that we had lost a beloved family member.

For ten years now, we hold close all the families who did.

We remember…the first one counted, the priest

Father Mychal Judge died on September 11, 2001. Five fire fighters carried his body and laid it at the foot of the church's altar. As these men moved down the street, the first tower collapsed.

The following is an excerpt from the eulogy delivered at Judge's funeral.

“Mychal Judge’s body was the first one released from Ground Zero. His death certificate has the number one on the top … and I meditated on that fact of the thousands of people that we are going to find out who perished in that terrible holocaust … Why was Mychal Judge number one? And I think I know the reason. I hope you’ll agree with me. Mychal’s goal and purpose in life at that time was to bring the firemen to the point of death, so they would be ready to meet their maker. There are between two and three hundred firemen buried there, the commissioner told us last night.

“Mychal Judge could not have ministered to them all. It was physically impossible in this life but not in the next. And I think that if he were given his choice, he would prefer to have happened what actually happened. He passed through the other side of life, and now he can continue doing what he wanted to do with all his heart. And the next few weeks, we’re going to have names added, name after name of people, who are being brought out of that rubble. And Mychal Judge is going to be on the other side of death … to greet them instead of sending them there. And he’s going to greet them with that big Irish smile … he’s going to take them by the arm and the hand and say, “Welcome, I want to take you to my Father.” … And so, he can continue doing in death what he couldn’t do in life …

“And so, this morning … we come to bury Mike Judge’s body but not his spirit. We come to bury his mind but not his dreams. We come to bury his voice but not his message. We come to bury his hands but not his good works. We come to bury his heart but not his love. Never his love.”

(AP photo of messages scrawled in debris dust on the ladder truck door of Ladder Company 24 join a growing memorial on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001 in New York Cit. Ladder Company 24 lost 7 firemen in the attack, including Fire Chaplain Father Mychal Judge)

As blue as that September 11th sky…

…are Lauren McIntyre's eyes. Lauren's father, a Port Authority Police Officer died on September 11, 2001. Lauren, born after the attacks, is one of ten children profiled in this week's People magazine. She says of her dad, “He would have liked me.” The pendant around her neck carries his photograph so he can be with her all the time…each year Gabi Jacobs Dick sends balloons up to his dad, Ari Jacobs, who died in Tower 1. He attaches notes that let his dad know that his life is “going great.”…Alexa Smagala holds her dad's firefighter's helmet and knows she can curl her tongue like her dad could do. She says she wishes her dad wasn't so brave.

As we recall our own memories of that horrible day, these children must create images of the men who gave them life; images through stories told to them, as well as the longings of their hearts. When we say we shall always remember, we do well to remember the strength of these families, the hope found in these sweet faces.

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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