The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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9/11 shadow still lingers 10 years later

For our grandparents, it was Pearl Harbor. For our parents, it was the assassination of JFK. For us, it is 9/11. We all remember exactly where we were when we found out about our nation being under attack.

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001 my mother paged us over our household intercom: “Michael, Arthur, and Allison, it is time to wake up. There is a national crisis; meet me in my bedroom.” In my sleepy state I thought to myself she must be joking. But right after that thought she chimed in again: “I’m not joking.”

I figured that it was something serious since my mom, the Queen of Nicknames, used our full names here. So, I rolled out of bed and met my brothers in the hallway, and the three of us walked to my parents’ bedroom. There was my mom, trying to stay calm but noticeably shaken. With the TV on in the background she announced that two planes had been flown into the World Trade Center Towers; then she added, “and we don’t know if Kevin made it out.”

Kevin was my father’s best friend and very much of an uncle-type figure for my brothers and me. My dad often says, “You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends.”

Kevin was a friend, turned into family. He and my father spoke every workday morning—with my family in California and Kevin in New York, they had a routine phone call appointment at 6 a.m. PT (9 a.m. EST), and they would catch up.

In fact that morning my dad was trying to call Kevin but couldn’t figure out why all he could get was a “fast busy (i.e., “all circuits are busy”) signal.

It was then that one of his co-workers ran by his office and told him that the first tower had been hit. My dad ran to the only room with a TV (along with the rest of his colleagues) just as the second plane flew into the south tower (where Kevin worked).

I don’t remember much about that day past hearing the news. I do remember feeling numb and lost. Going to school was completely pointless—nobody learned anything new that day; we just watched the news. It was a constant reminder that Kevin might not have survived.

My brother and I called home at lunch (you remember pay phones, don’t you?) to see if Mom had gotten any news —there was none. That night all five of us stayed in my parents’ room; none of us could sleep, so we just watched old TV shows.

Kevin worked on the 102nd floor of the second tower that was hit and did not survive. He did manage to call and leave a message for his wife, Lori, after the first tower was hit, just to let her know that he was all right.

Kevin had three young children (ages 2, 5 and 7) who were suddenly fatherless and confused.

Sept. 11 cast a dark shadow on my family.

While my parents mourned the loss of a brother-like friend, my brothers and I mourned the loss of a close uncle. My eldest brother was plagued with nightmares around the attack and was greeted at college with students protesting, holding signs saying, “We deserved 9/11!”

Nobody understood.

My parents attended the memorial service for Kevin; my father gave a eulogy. My father, who had worked and traveled to the New York area for decades, said he had never “heard it so quiet;” they came back to California even more heartbroken. Kevin and Lori’s children were young and couldn’t comprehend why their dad didn’t have a grave.

About nine months after the attack, Lori was informed that they had found some of Kevin (a femur and a thigh bone, I believe). My parents made one more trip to Summit, N.J., to help bury him.

My family and Kevin’s family have grown even closer after his death. My mom began going back to New Jersey four or five times a year to provide Lori with some relief from being a single mother. My father helped with their investments and would fly the family out to California for vacations. When I got to high school, I spent a couple of spring breaks in New Jersey helping with the kids and babysitting so that Lori could go out with friends.

Over the past ten years, Lori has managed as a single parent, but she has raised three wonderful children. Her children battled issues such as the oldest child not having a father-like figure, the middle child suffering from ADD, and the youngest having temper issues because he couldn’t remember his father. The kids (ages 17, 15, and 12) are thriving. My dad was back East a couple of months ago and got to stop by and visit with them. He called me on his way back to the hotel and told me, while choking up, “Kevin … would be so proud.”

My dad recently sent me a book, “With Love and Prayers,” by F. Washington Jarvis, the headmaster of Roxbury Latin in Boston. When queried by parents about how the school prepares students for college, he often states that “We prepare them for death.”, i.e., one of the few certitudes of life. It’s good training —unfortunately, sometimes it’s needed to be applied too early … and too often.

So remember to hug your family and friends and tell them you love them. You never know what will happen.

Allison Thompson is a senior majoring in business management and French. She can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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