On Saturday morning, I wasn’t in the mood for College Gameday. Instead, I watched the World Trade Center remembrance ceremony. Throughout the program, the names of the 2,753 people killed in New York City on 9/11 were read aloud.
The two decades that passed didn’t make the ceremony any less gut-wrenching. So many lives senselessly taken away. As a name was read, the lower third of the screen displayed that person’s photo and age. After about 30 minutes of simply watching, I started to do something…
I started to Google.
The names were going by fast and I felt like I wasn’t able to give proper attention to these individuals. It was like they were getting lost in the shuffle. So, I started to randomly type the names of victims into my phone. It was pretty easy to do—I would type a first and last name followed by “9/11” and I would immediately have an obituary or a newspaper article.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t Google everyone. I did have to pick and choose. I found myself selecting people who were around my age or either really young or elderly.
Here are just five people I learned about on Saturday…
– Hilda Marcin was 79 years old when her plane was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center. A German immigrant, she was flying to California to live with her daughter.
– Katie McCloskey was 24 years old and had just realized her dream of moving to New York City. She was working as a computer technician on the 97th floor of the north tower.
– James F. Murphy was 30 years old and happened to be in the World Trade Center on September 11 for a trade show. He left behind a wife and devastated parents who loved hosting family meals.
– Paula Morales was a mother of four and a systems analyst for the AON Corporation. The 42-year-old who had just bought a house was working on the 102nd floor of the north tower.
– Patrick Sean Murphy was a 36-year-old vice president of Marsh & McLennan who loved basketball, whether it be playing in rec leagues or going to Knicks games. He was happily married and a father of a 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
It is easy to be overwhelmed watching the towers fall and the staggering death toll that came with it. That perspective is important and painful. But a different perspective—just as important and painful—is taking a deeper dive into the individual lives that were taken. For many years I had neglected to examine that latter reality. I started to finally take a closer look at personal stories this past Saturday, even if it was just a sampling of victims who had the last name of “M.” But I am committed to expanding my reflections. I have every intention of learning about more of my fellow Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Don’t Blink.