Ruth Ann and I met Joe DeLuca and Linda Gronlund on a beautiful late summer day in the Berkshires, at the home of the Eckler’s, Linda and Larry. They were hosting a picnic for the Morgan Car Club, of which we were members.
We chatted across the lunch table, about racing his car, the “Yellow Peril”, and about his upcoming trip with Linda, to wine country, in California. We talked about my car and the mods I was planning and he was genuinely interested and gave me some great tips. A great afternoon; great folks and great conversation.
Then, a couple of days later I learned that Joe and Linda were on Flight 93. My heart sunk… We looked up the flight manifest… sure enough… there were their names. We cried together. To that point Ruth Ann and I had escaped any direct effect of the tragic events of 9/11… Jack Wright’s son stopped to buy cereal, Matt Chavez took the next Path train home to New Jersey when the first plane hit the Twin Towers. Everybody we knew was safe and sound, except for Joe and Linda.
We mourned privately for them but I picked up the newspaper this morning and in a picture of the Flight 93 Memorial was Joe’s name… all of the feelings from 10 years ago came back. Two lives snuffed out by radical extremists; two names indelibly etched in the fabric of this great nation, with the hero’s Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea… back to the Revolutionary War; two honest-to-goodness Americans. I want to remember Joe as one of the “Let’s Roll” guys, who stopped the plane in its tracks and foiled the hijackers intended mission. I think I’ll keep that thought.
I talked to my nephew, David, this morning. He’s just back from Medical Officer training and looking to deploy sometime soon. He feels very strongly about his military service, following his father and grandfathers, and in spite of his family obligations(three kids, ouch), he’s OK with a deployment to Afghanistan, or Iraq… he’s a trauma surgeon and what better way for him to give back than to fix our broken troops. They do deserve the very best. He feels that he would spend his time being very bored if the deployment was stateside. I love him, his mother worries, but he is committed to his obligation and to his service for our nation.
I think about Rod Stout every day, too… picking up troop causalities in Afghanistan with his airborne ambulance. I worry about him coming home safely… I think of Linda and those two great little kids.
Ironically, the Washington Redskins are playing the New York Giants today… a battle on the gridiron, not the battlefield. Although many towns, big and small, were affected by the 9/11 attacks, here are two teams from the cities that were impacted the most on 9/11. We won’t forget, will we?