September 11, 2010
Once again this year, I signed up to take part in a blogging tribute to the victims of 9/11 as part of Project 2,996 This year my tribute is to Michael Miller.
Michael Miller, “lived his life in the present. He never boasted about his past and never went on and on about the future. He lived for now.” If there’s one description that seems to sum up Michael, that was it. On every tribute site, friends and family remember him as living each day to the fullest, and sharing that with everyone around him.
In high school, he excelled in track, and was recruited to play wide receiver for the University of Pennsylvania. The team went on to win the Ivy League title during his Junior and Senior years. He had much success in college, and became a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald after graduating. Whether it was delving into the excitement of life in New York City, riding his motorcycle, or skiing, Michael loved adventure.
Michael seemed to touch the lives of many around him. One friend recalls how his recipe for banana bread was so good, she got it published in a cook book. Another young friend recalls how Michael bought her chocolates during a trip to Rockefeller Center at Christmas. She fondly remembers how he convinced her that the “magic chocolates,” when eaten, would cause the Christmas tree to light up. Many others remember his competitive spirit, and would how he would cheerfully rise up to any challenge – especially if it had to do with sports. In every story about Michael, people recalled how he always left them with a smile.
On the morning of September 11th, Michael was working in One World Trade Center. In a few weeks, he was going to marry his fiance, Patricia Skic. They planned to elope and throw a small wedding party, because they were saving up to buy a house in the Hamptons.
At 8:46 that morning, Muslim terrorists steered American Airlines Flight 11 into the North tower. Cantor Fitzgerald, where Michael worked, was located about 2-6 floors above the area of impact. The company lost 658 of their employees that day (about 2/3 of their workforce).
His parents, Betty Ann and James H. Miller Jr., wrote of their son:
He was generous with his time and money, not only with his family, but everyone else in his life. The light in our lives has gone out, but Michael will live forever in our minds and hearts.
In memory of Michael Miller
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September 11, 2010
A couple of years ago, I took part in a blogging tribute to the victims of 9/11. It became something that I wanted to continue to do, even though the site has scaled back its yearly events. This year, my tribute is to Asia Cottom.
Asia was an 11 year old, just starting Middle School in Washington D.C. Just like any other kid, she loved Barbie, Tweety, and double dutch. But Asia was not typical, by any standards. She loved to read, and loved science, math, and computers, with the hope to become a pediatrician when she grew up. She had attended computer camp prior to starting Middle School, and looked forward to sharing her experience with her fellow students. She also loved her faith, and at her church, she served as an usher, a member of the dance group, and a singer in the church choir. On her own, she loved to study the Bible and wrote her own commentary to some of the more challenging passages.
On September 11, 2001, Asia Cottom boarded Flight 77, along with two of her classmates and three of her teachers. She and her classmates had been selected to fly from D.C. to the Channel Islands in Santa Barbara, to take part in National Geographic’s Sustainable Seas Expedition. The purpose was to study marine life, but there would be plenty of fun as well – kayaking, beach trips, and even the chance to swim with dolphins. This was a unique opportunity, and she was so excited about the trip that she spent time in advance, doing research on her computer. She couldn’t wait to learn, but she also couldn’t wait to get into the water. This was going to be an amazing experience.
35 minutes into the flight, Muslim terrorists hijacked the plane, and steered it into the Pentagon, killing all 64 passengers, crew, and another 125 victims in the building.
Her last project at school was to list her role models and best friends. For her heroes, she listed her parents. She listed her brother as one of her best friends. And on her list of great singers, she listed her mother. For Asia, family was at the top of her list.
On the evening of 9/11, Asia’s mother told her daughter’s teacher, “Mrs. Jones, my baby got her wings today.” The teacher replied, “We have to live right so we can get our wings when it is our time.”
In remembrance of Asia Cottom, age 11, of Washington D.C..
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September 11, 2010
I saw on Dale Roe’s site that Captain Patrick Brown did not receive a tribute last year, which really surprised me. Captain Brown seemed to be the perfect American Hero – U.S. Marine, Vietnam war veteran, Gold Gloves boxer, 6 time marathoner, black belt karate instructor, and even one of Manhattan’s “most eligible bachelors.”
Patrick “Paddy” Brown was meant to be a firefighter. As a kid, he used to listen to fire calls on his scanner and would spend as much time at the local fire house as he could. When he returned from his service in Vietnam, he worked his way into the New York City Fire Department, and eventually made it to Ladder 3 in Manhattan.
On September 11th, he helped to lead about 25,000 civilians to safety out of the North Tower at the World Trade Center. It is believed that Captain Brown and other firefighters were on the 40th floor of the World Trade Center, helping dozens of severly burned victims, when the North Tower fell.
Captain Brown’s remains were finally found on December 14, 2001. His family scattered his remains on a jogging path in Central Park. Later, the Captain Patrick J Brown Walk would be constructed along the East River on Avenue C near his Stuyvesant apartment. The story of his recovery was made into a documentary, titled “Finding Paddy.” There is also a memorial web site dedicated to his memory, which has raised money to support established charities that assist firefighters, their families, members of the Armed Forces. The site can be found here – The Patrick Brown Memorial Foundation.
One of his bravest rescues was in May, 1991. He and his fellow firefighters charged into a 12 story burning building to save two people that were trapped on the top floors. There was no way to reach them by foot, so he organized a rope rescue from the roof to pull them to safety. He recalled the event in July, 2001.
This guy was going to jump any minute, any minute. Even thinking of it now, 10 years later, I get all upset. As a lieutenant, I could have said that we aren’t doing this. And the guy would have died. I could have said that it’s too dangerous, and nobody would have said a word. If I had finagled around and said, “Break the wall so we can tie off and have a safety line,” he would have been gone. The victim was four or five feet below, looking up at me. It was either let’s do it or let’s not. I just said, I know we can do it.
At Captain Brown’s memorial service on November 9th, 2001, Firefighter Mike Moran, from Brown’s Ladder Company 3, did the eulogy. Here’s part of the wonderful tribute:
On the morning of Sept. 11th, enemies of the United States attacked the World Trade Center. Their followers rejoiced, they even danced in the streets. They thought they had achieved success. But they did not.
They made the mistake on the morning of Sept. 11th, when all they saw when they looked at the WTC was 2 buildings. What they failed to see was the nation that stood behind them. What they failed to understand was the terrible resolve they had awakened.
And if there is justice in the afterlife, and I believe there is…..
Those fanatics who crashed those planes into the WTC did NOT get to meet Allah. They did NOT get 70 virgins. Instead, they met Patrick J. Brown. And they discovered they messed with the wrong Marine.
In remembrance of Captain Patrick John Brown, age 48, New York City.
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