September 11, 2006

Honor and Remembrance - September 11th 2001

Remembering Christopher Dunne... one of many we think of this day...

What words do we use when words are not enough? What words can we use when words cannot express? What words can you use to remember what you can not forget?

Tragedy and grief lead us to ask why and how of God in angry terms. Senseless loss makes the scales seem so unbalanced, with our grief and terrible ache against acts of evil men, we often want some greater meaning for something the exacts such a terrible cost. Yet we find our way home to those we miss when we don't look for meaning in their passing, but realize we find meaning in their lives. When we think of the loved and lost, it is not their end we recall, rather we think of who they were, and how they made our lives fuller for having been part of it. They are not remembered best as victims of 9/11, but as parents and spouses, neighbors and old friends, a kind face seen in passing.

It is in this spirit of remembering the lives, not the passing, of those who left us on September 11th, that I speak today about Christopher Dunne. I don't know if he preferred Chris or Christopher, but my guess having learned just a small amount about him is he'd have been happy with either, and his friends seemed to know him as Chris. We would proudly acclaim to be counted among such friends to him today.

Chris worked at Marsh and McLennan, Inc., an insurance brokering firm. Marsh and McLennan moved into the World Trade Center Tower One in 1998 - the last large block of space leased in the Twin Towers, taking floors 94 through 100. On September 11th, at 8:46 A.M., American Airlines Flight 11 was flown into WTC1, impacting floors 94 - 98 - the heart of Marsh and McLennan. Chris was one of hundreds of employees of MMC that were lost to us that morning.

Chris worked in tech support at MMC, in a job probably amazingly similar to mine - I too work in computer support, and I considered it somewhat poignant that Chris's name came to me to be spoken of on this day. Chris was 29 years old in 2001, the same age as my my younger brother, who was also 29 in 2001. My brothers name? Christopher...

These similarites make Chris more familiar to me, but I cannot say of course that I knew him, of what kind of man he was. Yet I feel I've come to know Chris somewhat through the comments of some of his friends who remembered him and expressed their thoughts about him at Marsh and McLennan's memorial page for Chris, especially the following:

Iím not exactly sure when I first started hanging out with Chris. When he began working at our company, he was relatively quite and kept to himself. He was only known as ďKhakisĒ since he wore khakis to work every day. All I know is that somewhere along the way, he started hanging out with us after work, became more comfortable, and started to show who he really was. And things were never the same afterwords.

Chris loved to have fun. He was always cracking jokes, always making sarcastic comments, or acting out a dialog between two different people by himself. When we went out, he would be the first to buy a round, and the last to go home. But what I really found amazing about Chris was that he seemed to be so comfortable in his own skin. The way you know some people hold back and donít completely show who they are, I never got that feeling from him. Iím guessing that if we could see the way he acted when he was at home alone, it would be the exact same as the way he acted around people. And being around that kind of person made me more comfortable, and allowed me to be freer around him.

Iíve never met a person like Chris before and I doubt I ever will. I am glad that I got to know him and will never forget his jocular spirit, unique sense of humor, and his kindness and openness. I miss him dearly.

But for a tragic fate, those who would have met Chris and become his friends still can come to know him when his memory is shared with us by those who knew him. And it is in the sharing that who Chris was stays with us. Each of us live on in the memories of those who came to know us and in whose lives we came to play a part. Chris stays with those who remember him, and those who never knew him still are influenced by his those who cherish how he enriched their lives.

I never had the opportunity to meet Chris in person, but everyday, sometimes two and three times a day I would talk to Chris. I miss him tremendously. I still talk to Chris...when I run, when it's quiet, in the early morning, when we are all together and laughing.

Thanks for making me laugh QA Manager Type Guy. I still remember your number.

It's not always easy to see the difference we make in the lives of others. Few of us realize how we enrich the lives of those around us, like Chris has. It isn't heroic intervention that makes the difference , it's the small things - a small kindness shown, a friend to listen, a helping hand, an easy humor eager for a smile.

There are three-thousand stories like Chris' today - and yet still only one for Chris. After five years, it is tempting to be melancholy, to be brought low with sadness, yet Chris didn't seem the type to want that - smile, he'd say. Laugh a little today. Remember the good times. When you do, I'm right there with you.

And pass it on...

We encourage you to read the stories of others like Chris today, of those who perished that day yet still touch the lives of those who knew them, and who's names we honor best when we celebrate all they brought to the lives of those who remain to remember them...

Posted by MEC2 at September 11, 2006 04:19 PM