Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th *updated*

Seeing as this day holds memories of happiness and sadness and I hope to never forget what happened, it's time for my traditional Sept. 11th blog.

This image while not the best, as I was watching the coverage of Pope Benedict at Ground Zero via the jumbo-trons in Yankee Stadium reminds us how sacred the ground at Ground Zero is. Today holds many memories, happy ones as it's my brother and sister-in-law's ninth anniversary. Smart ass that he is, my brother chose 9-1-1 so everyone would remember it, and it happened to be a Saturday, so they went with it. Little did we know what would happen. There are sad memories from the actual day in 2001 and this year the date stings a bit more.

I remembered that Bernadette would have been 6 months old on Sunday, but it bypassed me that today would be her 6 month anniversary. While Bernadette is not my niece and I know that I will never know the pain that her mother, father, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents feel, but it still stings. I know Bernadette's family quite well and I did drop most things to go watch my friends' (Bernadette's aunt and uncle) kids so they could be with Bernadette's mom and dad, so I was there in spirit. It just doesn't seem like March was only 6 months ago. Bernadette graced us from March 7th- March 11th, and we are all better for it. Bernadette, her parents and her sister are a great story/image for the pro-life movement. Bernadette was given the gift of life by her parents because they believe that all life is sacred, even those that are supposed to only last a few hours. Bernadette had a condition called anencephaly, so her parents knew from fairly on in the pregnancy what the outcome would be. They never backed down in defending their daughter's right to life, and for that among other things, they fall into the category of "heroes" in my mind and are a great example of the Gospel of Life that JP2 called us to. Bernadette, enjoy your place in Heaven and keep praying for us.

Each year I try to write something about today and it is usually the "where was I on Sept. 11th" blog. This year will be similar, but different as each year we are removed brings something with it.

What I wrote last year via my livejournal...
"I did a google search for the "dennis mchugh run" and found this " Today, carries a special Community View, by Chloe McHugh, the daughter of FDNY member Dennis McHugh, who was killed at the World Trade Center.

Here's a section of Chloe's Community View: "My dad, Dennis McHugh of Ladder 13 was one of the 3,016 people that died on 9/11. My dad was one of those "wake-up and be happy" kind of guys, he never let anything bring him down. He loved to run and go to the library with me but he also liked to work. In the six years that he has been dead there have been a lot of changes in not only my life, but in everyone's lives. If you take a good look around you can see all the changes that have happened. Do you see what the firefighters, policemen,and policewomen have done to change this country? My dad was one of the many people who ran in at the last moment to get as many people as possible out of the falling buildings.""

Rest in peace Dennis, you have touched and saved many lives.

Every year my family goes in to "the City" for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and I think they started the 343 flags the St. Patrick's right after the attacks, but I'm not a hundred percent sure. I remember being at the parade and watching the flags appear up on 5th Ave. when these flags pass by is the only time the crowd is ever quiet. It is an amazing site that pictures do not give or do justice. 343 brave men and women ran into those buildings are they were falling. The man mentioned above was one of those 343 taken from the FDNY, and while I may never have known him personally, our families knew each other. Dennis' father and my father either worked on the NYC buses together or are from the same county/section of Ireland or it could be both. Dennis' wake sits in my memory as something unsual, yet profound at the same time. The outpouring of love shown at that wake was unreal. I remember the line to get in wrapped around the parking lot a few times and we were early. In front of us on/in the line was a volunteer firefighter from Rockland County. I remember this because of his actions inside the funeral home and our conversation outside. We walked into the funeral home and what struck me besides the fact that there was no body, but a huge picture of Dennis in his dress FDNY uniform, were the flowers that said "Daddy you will always be our hero" and the firefighter in front of me, giving a full salute to Dennis' picture, it was the classic full attention, back straight, heels together, hat on head salute. To watch this man who might have been from the same area of Rockland County as Dennis stop and salute his fallen brother as he called him moved me to tears.

Dennis was not the only one we knew who died in the attacks. John Gallagher, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, lived down the street from us when we lived in the Bronx and I remember distinctly one visit I made with my brother who was in school with John to his family's house. I remember John's memorial Mass was just a big reunion of families that hadn't seen each other in years. We laughed, I heard a lot of "no, that's not 'little Mary'" as I was 12 years younger than the boys and we had been out of the Bronx for 8 years at that point. John's Mass wasn't somber, well at times it was, but it truly a Mass celebrating the life that John lived on this Earth. The picture of John holding his newborn son is what touched most people, but as the priest who said the Mass said, "John is up in Heaven laughing at the fact that he brought you all back here for a party." It truly was as we went to Mass in the church, and continued our way downstairs to the school gym. I can't tell you how many times that happened when I was a child, but it was a lot and the school gym was also where the boys would play basketball and other adventures would take place.

Both men, John and Dennis, have managed to touch many lives during their lives on Earth and are continuing to do so as they live in their Eternal resting place, as do the others who were taken with them.

I'm taking a short break to watch TV and then you'll get my account of where I was that day.


Mark said...

This must be a highly emotional day for Americans, and especially for New Yorkers.

Here in England we saw all the horrific footage of what happened, but in many ways it's reading the stories and memories of individuals which really brings home to us how every single New Yorker (along with millions of other Americans) was personally affected and forever changed.

Prayers and best wishes,


Mark said...

Hi Mary, thanks for such an inspiring blog-post (I’ve just been reading the updated version).

One of the things I love about Catholicism is the idea of the communion of saints, with the saints in heaven helping people here on earth, and people here on earth helping the souls in purgatory.

(I’m certain those FDNY heroes who died on 9/11 really are saints in the true sense, because they sacrificed their lives to save others, which is surely what the Church means by “heroic sanctity”.)

What you say about Bernadette and John and Dennis praying for people and helping them from heaven illustrates just what the communion of saints is about.

It also reminds me of St Therese of Lisieux and her promise that, once she got to heaven, she would be able to help people back on earth far more than she could when she was still alive.

Maybe when God takes people from us at a tragically early age it’s because he has other work for them to do and better ways for him to fulfil his will.

You must feel very proud and blessed to belong to the Irish-American community in New York / New Jersey. It sounds as though Irish Americans have a true understanding of their role in the communion of saints.

Anyway, thank again for your post. I’m looking forward to hearing about your own memories of 9/11.