Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Eight Years Later

I am going to take a break from posting things only about our lives for just a minute. In my surfing around the worldwide interweb, I cam across a blog that had linked to a site started by Dale Challener Roe (or DC Roe) called Project 2,996. It is a network of bloggers who have decided to annually on 9/11 to remember one (or two) of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. I thought it was a great idea because the farther away we get from that day, the more people forget. Sure you hear about it on the news, or you hear people talk about it, or even see images of the WTC on fire, but unless you watched it and lived it while it was happening, I don’t think you can ever truly appreciate the impact it had on people’s lives. And while the victims will always have their immediate friends and family to remember them, I think that they need to be remembered by more than just their loved ones in order to realize the impact of what happened that day and to never forget why we fight terrorism.

I picked two people off of the list to remember, Sara Elizabeth Low and Richard D. “Richie” Allen. I chose Sarah Elizabeth Low because it is the my oldest daughter's name, Sarah Elisabeth. I still remember her watching the TV with us on 9/11/2001 and looking at me asking why those buildings were falling down. I thought that because of the name it would be a good choice, since I would always remember it. Second, Richie Allen was an NYC fire fighter. I have, over the years, developed a special appreciation for fire fighters. My father was a fire fighter for 25 years and it wasn’t really until 9/11 that I realized the extent of what he did for a living. Every day he went into work he was essentially putting his life on the line. He never knew when there was going to be a fire, never knew what the extent of that fire would be when he went on a call. Just like members of the armed forces, police and firefighters put their lives on the line with every call and do it willingly never knowing if the next run they go on will be the last run they go on. They are lifesavers, and true everyday heroes, and I'm proud to tell people that my father was a firefighter.

This is Sara Elizabeth Low.

Sara Elizabeth Low was a flight attendant and a resident of Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up in Batesville, Arkansas and graduated from Batesville High School in 1991. Sara was a track athlete in high school, and her team won a state title in 1989. In honor of her memory, Batesville has annually held the Sara Low Memorial 5K Run and Walk.

Sara died at the age of 28 in the crash of American Airlines Flight 11 during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She was one of nine flight attendants onboard. Sara and the rest of her flight crew, being on the first hijacked plane, could have no inkling of what lay in store, unlike on United Airlines Flight 93, where the crew and passengers learned of the earlier attacks and mounted a pre-emptive counterattack that stopped the hijackers from succeeding in their suicide mission. The last recorded information that we have about Sara Low is that on the highjacked American Airlines Flight 11, she gave to another flight attendant, Amy Sweeney, "her father's calling card, which allowed [Sweeney] . . . to pretend to be a passenger and use an AirFone to call Logan Airport and relay the vital information." Even a small act like that took presence of mind and some degree of courage in terrible circumstances that the vast majority of us will never face.

Despite having earned advanced degrees in banking and finance from the University of Arkansas, Sara E. Low was dedicated to her career with American Airlines. And the 29-year-old flight attendant was stationed along the eastern seaboard--a part of the nation she adored. For Sara Elizabeth Low, a career as a flight attendant was a birthright. Family vacations meant piling in the back of her father's small plane and heading from Batesville, Ark., to the Gulf Coast or Rocky Mountains. "Sara didn't think there was too much difference between being in the plane and being in a car," said her mother, Bobbie Low.

Poised, collected, yet prone to sudden streaks of silliness — a personality to calm even the most enraged traveler. And her job sated her wanderlust, her need for cosmopolitan glamor.

"She would call us from the different destinations and give us a hard time," said her older sister, Alyson, a teacher in Fayetteville, Ark. "In the summer she'd phone from San Francisco or Vancouver because she loved that she had to wear a sweater, rubbing it in about how hot and humid it is in Arkansas."

Yet one aspect of the itinerant life wore on Sara: in her first two years as a flight attendant she had about two dozen roommates. So at age 28 she had finally found a place of her own in the Beacon Hill area of Boston, the city from which she boarded Flight 11. "It had a fireplace and wooden floors," Alyson said. "Our mother went to Boston in the summer to help her clean it up, and it was going to be a real home."

"She absolutely loved the airlines and helping people," her father, Mike, said. Sara is survived by her parents, Mike and Bobbie Low of Batesville, and her sister, Alyson Low of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The second person I remember is Richard D. Allen, know to family and friends as "Richie".

Richie was 31 on Sept. 11, 2001. He was a life-long resident of Rockaway Beach. He became a victim of this tragedy as he heroically saved lives in the line of duty.

Richie loved the beach and worked Rockaway’s beaches as a lifeguard for many years and he treasured it. The beach was a peaceful place for Richie and brought him comfort; it was Richie’s Heaven on Earth. He loved the ocean, which is where he surfed, fished, swam and paddled.

Before becoming a fireman and when not lifeguarding on the beach in the summer, Richie spent his winters as a New York City Public School teacher. He quickly and easily gained the admiration and respect of his students as they could tell that he was not like their other teachers. To his students, Richie was someone they could relate to and they described him as “laid back” and “cool”.

People become firemen for many reasons. Richie’s family believes that he became a fireman because saving people and helping is what gave him life. During his short life, he saved many people; some he saved as a fireman, some he saved while lifeguarding and some he saved from themselves. His family believes that this is what God put him on this earth for. Once people met Richie, their lives were changed forever.

On September 11th, Richie was doing what he loved to do: he was helping others. Richie was a probationary New York City firefighter with Engine 4/Ladder 15 in Manhattan. While he was on the fire department for only a short time, he fulfilled a life-long dream. Prior to becoming a fireman, Richie held several other jobs with NYC, which he loved. He worked for the sanitation department, he was a teacher for the Board of Ed and spent his summers working as a lifeguard in Rockaway. All of Richie's jobs entailed serving the people of NYC and making a difference in other people's lives.

Richie is survived by his very proud and loving family, which includes his parents, Richie Sr. and Gail; two brothers, Luke and Mathew; three sisters, Maggie, Lynn, Judy and her husband Mark; close family relatives, Kathy, Charlie Sr., Charlie Jr. and Katie Marquardt, as well as many other dear friends and relatives.

Thanks to,,, & for the information on these victims.


Alicia said...

These are beautiful tributes. Thank you. I remember Christopher Paul Slattery.

Writer Chick said...

Lovely tributes. Thank you for remembering them. I'm glad there are still plenty of us still remembering the victims of this tragedy.

Writer Chick

Deb said...

Thank you for remembering these people...I hope they will never be forgotten - D. Clements

Amie said...

These are absolutely wonderful, I think the people you have written about here would be honored to read how richly you've described them and their lives. Really moving.

J Rob said...

Thank you for honoring Sara's life. She was a sweet young lady. She was a former student of mine at Batesville Jr. High when she was in the 7th grade. I will always remember her beautiful smile.

I always take time on 9/11 to reflect on the memories I have of Sara and will never forget the empty feeling I had the day I took her roses and left them at the site where she perished that horrible day.

Dr. John R. Dulaney a.k.a "Mr. Du"