Three years ago I participated in Project 2996. This year I remembered to reapply for the project.
Richard James Stadelberger was one of the 87 employees of Fiduciary Trust who died on 9-11. He was a loving father, coached Little League baseball, taught, and even eight years later is still fondly remembered by the people who knew him. One of his former employees remembers him ending every day at the office by giving them his thanks for the effort they put in each and every day.
Almost eight years ago the lives of the families of nearly 3,000 innocent people were torn asunder in under three hours. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters never came home and left their families, and a nation, mourning. With the events of the day fading from memory and a whole generation of children who are growing up in a world where the Twin Towers never existed, it becomes more and more important to remember those who were lost as more than just a name on a website.
Behind those names are families with a hole in them. The hole has, hopefully, shrunk over the merciful passing of time, but like a scar it never goes away. Years, even decades, after the fact objects, scents, sounds, anything can bring something of the person back to your mind. A lost and forgotten letter rediscovered during a move, piece of jewelery left behind in an unopened drawer of a dresser, or a bottle of cologne or perfume which worked its way into the back of the bathroom cabinet. But, as I said three years ago, those feelings of loss are eventually replaced with fond memories of those who were lost.
It becomes more and more important, to me at least, to celebrate the lives the people we lost on 9-11 led, rather than mourn their passing. No one goes through life without touching the lives of others. For someone like Dick Stadelberger the friends of his children still remember talks with him. His former students from two decades before his death recall the importance he had in their lives as a teacher who cared. His employees recall him as the only boss they had who thanked them for their work. This was a life well-lived and one which many people would be grateful to have had.
It's an awful thing to be forgotten. May there never come a day when those 2,996 become nothing more than a number in a text book.