September 11 Anniversary, Thinking of Helen Kelly

There are major events happening throughout the world, like the elections in Guatemala and the Egyptian response to the attack on the Israeli embassy, and, here, in the United States, the story of the day was the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

I don’t intend to relive the horror of that day, as there have been scores of videos, films, slideshows and articles that have covered that gruesome terrain.  I will say that Dart Society Board member David Handschuh’s recollection of his experience in Dart Society Reports is worthwhile reading, as he both documented and survived the event when the collapse of the South Tower covered him in rubble, threw him a half block away, and, ironically, saved the lives of the firemen who moved him.

Had they not taken the time to lift the deeply battered body of the veteran photographer, he found out later, they would have entered and become part of the collapse itself.

I’m interested to hear what you thought about the memorial ceremonies today and what, if any, of the blizzard of material available made an impact on you.

For me, the anniversary did make me reflect on the geopolitical changes the attacks wrought and that we still feel and grapple with today.  As a number of commentators observed, we have both made progress and fallen short of our aspirations in the ensuing decade.

I thought about the heroes of the day and the days and months afterward, who shrugged off any concerns of their personal safety in the fulfillment of their duty.

In many cases, as with Manny Del Valle, a Brookline High School classmate of my brother Jon who was a New York firefighter, they did not survive.

At some base level, my reflection was personal.

Perhaps this is because we are going through a particularly tough stretch, with Dunreith and her siblings working to grant their mother Helen’s wish to spend her final days of life at home and with them.

Being in the room with Helen in her living room yesterday on the eve of the anniversary made me think and feel deeply how much she has given to me, from literally giving Dunreith life, to raising her to be the woman that she is, to encouraging me as a husband, as a father and as a man.

I don’t know if I will see her alive again, but I do know that the generosity and love she showed me throughout our marriage-we were married almost exactly a year to the day before the attacks-will remain with me at large public occasions of memory like today as well as in my private moments when I think about those people who have mattered most to me.




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