Putting Faces to the Victims of 9/11

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.

Hilda Marcin

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.

Katie McCloskey.

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.

James F. Murphy

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.

Paula Morales

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.

Patrick Sean Murphy

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.

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