Thursday, September 11, 2014
I work for a nonprofit whose members are organizations and individuals who are interested in the development of innovative alternatives for youth and families in high-risk situations. We are a national organization and we just held an event for our members, featuring various speakers who addressed various issues in the field. One of the speakers was Tina Kelley. She works for Covenant House and co-authored the book, "Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope”, which is why she was invited to speak. However, back in 2002, she was part of the NY Times team that won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of 9/11, including the memorials written for those individuals who died that day. Meeting and speaking with Ms. Kelley was particularly meaningful for me.
I had a brother, several step-brothers, a brother-in-law, and a step-uncle all of whom worked on Wall Street and whose companies had offices in the World Trade Center. I spent 9/11/01 desperately trying to reach family members to make sure everyone was OK. I learned that the brother who worked in Brooklyn - not Manhattan - was on his way to a meeting at the Towers but was thankfully running late and was safe, as was almost everyone else. My step-uncle was not. He died that day, as did a friend from college. The following is excerpted from NY Times memorials published back then:
Edward Mazzella worked on Wall Street for over 40 years, the last few as a senior vice president for equity sales at Cantor Fitzgerald. He was killed three days before his retirement date, Sept. 14. His life's other enduring constant was family. Mr. Mazzella, 62, and his wife, Kay, were married for 40 years. Since early in their marriage, they had hosted a grand family dinner every Christmas Eve. About two dozen people always came for a spread of crabmeat sauce on pasta, shrimp scampi and cold fish salad, and plenty of fun. In 1993, to everyone's surprise, Mr. Mazzella took to watercolors. Since then, he had done about 100 paintings of flowers, apples, sailboats, treehouses, even a bird cage and a top hat and cane. He framed the paintings and gave them to family members. His children, Susan and Michael have the most, 15 each. "It's almost like he had a need to leave a legacy," Ms. LoPresti said. "He didn't know, but that's how it's turned out."
Joseph Leavey had a crush on skyscrapers. He could stand for hours outside a high-rise and marvel at it. He always wanted to become a firefighter, but he became an engineer in the construction industry because of his affection for buildings. Then he became a firefighter.
His favorite spot was Battery Park City. His favorite buildings: the World Trade Center. It was his habit to take his family to Lower Manhattan, so he could soak in the dimensions of the trade center. He took endless pictures of the buildings, sometimes lying flat on his back.
As a lieutenant with Ladder 15 in the South Street Seaport, Mr. Leavey, 45, was one of the first firefighters to reach the trade center on Sept. 11.