Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nine Lights in the Sky

Now let the music keep our spirits high
And let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky...

Montclair, New Jersey, is a small-to-medium-sized city located in Essex County, New Jersey, approximately fifteen miles or so west of New York City, from which (at certain points at least) one can see across the Hudson River to the skyline of Manhattan.  On September 11, 2001, nine residents of Montclair died at the World Trade Center when the two jets that the murderous cowards had hijacked struck, first, the North Tower and, thereafter, the South Tower. 

Michael L. Collins, a 38 year-old vice-president at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed that morning.   He and his wife, Lissa, to whom he was married in 1997, had not yet started a family but had already formulated a long-term action plan:  Retirement in Hawaii, which is where Lissa was born and where her family lived.  Caleb Arron Dack, 39 years old, was just about two months into his new career as a senior vice-president at a start-up company, Encompys, which was located in midtown Manhattan. He was at the World Trade Center on that terrible Tuesday morning attending a trade show in the Windows on the World restaurant.  Caleb and his wife, Abigail, had two children. Olivia was six years old when her father was killed and her little brother, Carter, was but two. 

Emeric "Ric" Harvey was a natural-born salesman.  As a young man in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, he and his brother, Ray, sold truck rides to little children behind their motto, "Come swing and sway with Ric and Ray!"   The fifty-six-year-old founder and president of Harvey Young Yurman, Inc. was attending his weekly Tuesday morning breakfast meeting at Windows on the World when the Twin Towers were attacked.  He was survived by his wife, Jennifer Harvey, and his daughter, Jennifer Castelano.  Scott M. Johnson, who was at his office at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, a private investment firm that occupied the 88th and 89th floors of the South Tower, when the tower was struck at 9:03 am, was only twenty-six years old.  He was one of sixty-seven KBW employees killed that morning.  He graduated from Trinity College in Connecticut in 1997, which was also the Alma mater of his father.  Trinity College now has two chairs endowed by Scott's parents, Ann and Thomas, in honor of and in memory of their son.  In addition to establishing the two endowed chairs at Trinity College, his parents were intimately involved in the planning of the September 11 Memorial, including the critically-important manner in which the names of those murdered that morning were to be arranged for the ease of their loved ones in locating them.  

Howard L. Kestenbaum, 56, earned his living as a Manager at Aon Risk Services, which had its offices on the 103rd floor of the South Tower.  He held a Ph.D in physics from Columbia University, which he enjoyed putting to practical use in his office.  He hung a lightly weighted paper cup from the ceiling in his office and observed the way in which the cup - and the building itself - moved and swayed in the high winds.   He and his wife, Granvilette, were married for thirty-one years.  In addition to being a devoted husband, he was also a doting father to the couple's one child, their daughter Lauren.  On the morning of September 11, 2001, Lauren had the horrifying misfortune of watching the first plane strike the North Tower from her seat on the bus that was taking her through the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan and her job as a librarian at the New York City Public Library. Robert Murach was in his office at Cantor Fitzgerald in the North Tower when the jet plane that Lauren Kestenbaum observed from out of her window on the bus struck the building.  He was a senior vice-president at Cantor Fitzgerald.  He was a die-hard New York Jets fan whose greatest passion was the family he adored:  Laurie, his wife of eleven years, and their two little girls, Madison Zoe, and Hayley Noelle, who were just nine and six years old respectively at the time of his death. 

Like Mr. Kestenbaum, David Lee Pruim was at work, at Aon Risk Services, on the South Tower's 103rd floor, when the second plane struck at 9:03 am.   The fifty-two-year-old senior vice president of risk services was married for twenty-eight years and his wife, Kate Pruim, described their time together as a "lifelong honeymoon." The couple was married for eighteen years before they had a child.  Their daughter, Carrington, was ten years old at the time of her father's death.   Ron Ruben, just thirty-six years old at the time of his death, was born and raised in Montclair.  As many single, white-collar professionals did at the the time - and still do to this day - he had moved to Hoboken, which is where he lived (with his two cats).  His parents both predeceased him, his father, Peter, when Mr. Ruben was just a boy of eighteen, and his mother, Marjorie, in 1996.  He tattooed "M.P." over his heart in their honor.    He was at his office at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods on the South Tower's 89th floor when the second jet struck the tower.  With their parents gone, Mr. Ruben and his two sisters were incredibly close.  That morning, each spoke to him on the telephone to see what was going on where he was and to find out if he was OK.  He assured each of them that he was fine and that everything was under control.   Michael James Stewart, a forty-two year-old native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, probably did not look very much at all like most of his colleagues at Carr Futures, a financial firm whose offices were located on the 92nd floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in that Mr. Stewart wore earrings in both ears every day.   He and his former wife, Diana, had two sons, Francisco and Eamon, who were fourteen and eleven years old, respectively, when Mr. Stewart was killed.  

Montclair, New Jersey September 11 Memorial



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