Eight years ago today at this very moment, the first of four hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center, setting off a day of death and destruction and awakening America to the real threat of radical Islamist terrorism. The individual victims often get forgotten in the enormity of the loss of 2,996 men, women and children, and perhaps there’s a reason for that. The horror of each individual loss would likely overwhelm us if we thought about it all of the time, if we think about the deaths each of them endured, simply because they lived in America and murderous nutcases hated them for it.
On the eighth anniversary of 9/11, we need to remember each of the victims as people, and Project 2996 helps us do that. Bloggers will write memorials today for each of the people lost on that terrible day. I have the honor of remembering Cesar Garcia, 36 years old, who worked for Marsh & McLennan on the 96th floor of North Tower, WTC 1. In fact, Cesar worked in the impact zone, where American Flight 11 hit the North Tower, and Cesar may have been one of the first tower casualties in a bloody day. Marsh & McLennan lost 295 people that day, second only to Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658 employees.
We know Cesar as a victim, but not much about him in life. Cesar was only a couple of years younger than me, and apparently a success in business, working for a well-respected firm in the World Trade Center in the hub of global trade. I have no idea how many family members Cesar left behind, what his politics were, whether he was a Yankees or Mets fan. Like most people in this country, Cesar worked hard and had a normal life, and had no reason to expect it would end violently.
I wish I could tell you more about Cesar personally. I think, being close to the same age and with both of us working in corporate environments (half a continent apart), we would have found much in common. We both worked in information technology, for instance, and no one bonds like computer enthusiasts. Unfortunately, I won’t ever have the chance to know Cesar, and he will never have the opportunity to give us his full contribution — and we are all the poorer for it.
If Cesar survived the initial impact, I suspect I know how he would have spent his final minutes. Like so many others in those towers, he would have looked for escape, but he also would have looked out for the people around him. He would have helped the wounded and found the trapped, if he had the chance to do it. Why do I assume that? Because so many in the towers did exactly that, trying to help their fellow Americans survive, right up to the last moment of their lives.
I’m sorry I never got to know Cesar Garcia, 36 years old at the time of his murder by lunatics. I’ll bet he was one hell of a man. Rest in peace, Cesar. You are not forgotten.
Addendum: Three years ago, I had the honor of remembering Ysidro Hidalgo-Tejada at Captain’s Quarters. Not long after posting my memorial, I received a very touching note from Ysidro’s family. Please read it and remember a very kind and loving father whose children have a large, painful gap in their lives to this day.