Monday, September 11, 2006

This is George Simmons

An average businessman, a regular flight, an ordinary day--nothing appears unusual and his about George Simmons from his picture. He and his wife Diane were on their way to Hawaii from Great Falls, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C. What was he wearing on the plane that day? Maybe a nice pullover sweater over casual slacks with sensible loafers. Did he bring a book, or was he reading the Wall Street Journal? Did he eat breakfast before they left that morning? Did he have the window or aisle seat?

George was aboard Flight 77, which terrorists hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001--no ordinary day. George didn't ask to be remembered today. He didn't ask to be #2412 on the 2,996 Project list. The man a friend called "cheerful, positive, and engaging" by a friend and "one nice fellow who deserved a few more years" by a co-worker wanted to go about the business of retirement, perhaps reading or golfing, eating out, driving, living the rest of his life. Instead, he is part of the montage of honored victims of the horrible crimes which left three gaping holes in the American topography and millions more in the hearts of decent people here and around the world. None of the 2,996 men, women, and children who died that day would have wanted their face there. Like George, they'd have chosen blissful anonymity and life with their families and friends. Like George, they were the human beings whose ordinary but valuable lives were snuffed out by calculating, merciless enemies they never knew.

What went through George's mind as that plane fell towards the ground and then veered madly into the Pentagon? Surely he thought of his loved ones, to whom he wouldn't have a chance to say goodbye. Did he and Diane hold hands and say goodbye? Was he calm? Perhaps he thought of God and eternity. Did he pray? I doubt his thoughts were of bills, money, traffic jams, politics, dry cleaning and what he saw on TV the night before--the thousand details which make up our ordinary lives. One thing is certain: he didn't get up that morning knowing that five years later, a strange woman from California would be writing about him. His was an unexpected and unwanted notoriety.

I most likely wouldn't have noticed George Simmons in an airport crowd, and I doubt that our paths would have crossed in this life; but I'll never forget him now.

Further:George Simmons tribute at

Update:Looks like the host site of the 2996 Project, for which I signed on to remember George, is temporarily down, probably due to overextended bandwidth. Please keep trying. I'm sure it'll be up again soon. In the meantime, here is a quote I saved from the site which explains its mission.

"2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers
will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

We will honor them by remembering their lives,
and not by remembering their murderers."

Update 2: Thanks to Michelle Malkin there is a mirror site listing the 2,996 Project memorials and the participating bloggers. Looks like the original site is completely down.


Mark Base said...

Very beautifully written. You've got a great down-to-earth style. Well done.