Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Proud Bearer of a Sixty Pound Stone

On my back's a sixty pound stone,
On my shoulder a half mile line.
- "The Rising"
Bruce Springsteen

Twenty-three-year-old Brooke Jackman was not a member of the FDNY.  She was, quite simply, an extraordinary young woman.  In the late summer of 2001, she worked at Cantor Fitzgerald.  On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, she died there - on the 104th floor of the North Tower - along with 658 of her co-workers.   

Brooke Jackman

She had only been at Cantor Fitzgerald for a brief period of time - having started at the firm after she graduated from Columbia University the previous spring - a Dean's List student with a degree in Finance.  Her dad, Robert, and her older brother, Ross, earned their living in the world of high finance.  Brooke, however, had already decided it was not for her.  

On the night of September 10, 2001, she spoke to her mom, Barbara, for the final time.  She had called home to Oyster Bay to tell her mom that she knew that there was more to life than earning money.  She intended to give up her position at Cantor Fitzgerald in order to pursue her M.S.W. at Berkeley's School of Social Work.   

Her "thing" was books.  She was a voracious reader.  She loved to read and she believed that a child presented with the opportunity to read was a child who could better realize his or her dream.  Her belief is one upon which her family has delivered for the past fourteen years.  

Within a month or so of their daughter's murder, Robert and Barbara Jackman established the Brooke Jackman Foundation, the mission of which is "to create and support programs enhancing the literacy and self-esteem of disadvantaged children and their families in and around the New York area."   The Foundation, annually, donates more than 35,000 knapsacks filled with books to homeless shelters and to schools.  

Each knapsack bears Brooke's name.  

Brooke Packs

More importantly, each knapsack carries her dream forward.    

Most important of all, it helps a child, perhaps, fulfill a dream of his own or her own...

...which is, after all, the greatest story ever written. 


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