I Remember Steve Mercado

On this, the 18th anniversary of September 11th, I wanted to re-post the first tribute I wrote as a part of Project 2996. While I was honored to write all of the tributes I did, Steve Mercado’s always felt personal to me. Maybe it is because he was a first responder, a man used to running toward danger in the service or others, or maybe because he seemed like the kind of guy you’d want for a friend. But for whatever reason, Steve will always occupy a little piece of my heart.

I still remember – and I will never forget.

Annie

Firefighter Steve Mercado is among the missing in the World Trade Center attack on Tuesday. This photo is on display at the station where they do duty Wednesday Sept 19, 2001. Newsday photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr.

I did not know Steve Mercado, but he was my kind of guy. He was funny, handsome, made a mean chili and damn it, he was a hero. On September 11th he and eleven other of his firefighter brothers were lost in the World Trade Center. I imagine him charging up those stairs, intent on answering the calls for help. Intent on fulfilling his mission to save and protect. He was that kind of guy. He lived to help people. To make them laugh, make them feel like things were really okay. And I think that when Steve was around, people did feel that way.

He was born and raised in the Bronx and dreamed of playing for the New York Yankees as a kid. He played stickball in the streets with his pals – a game his father had taught him and eventually a game he would teach his own son and countless other children. A tradition he carried into adulthood.

He married his childhood sweetheart Jovianna and eventually they had two sons, Skylar and Austin. He was a dedicated husband and father and took great joy in watching his children grow. I imagine that he had a picture of his wife and kids taped inside his helmet – I don’t know it – but he seemed the kind of man who would. Who loved his life so much that he would want to keep the things dear to him close. I imagine too, that his last thoughts were of his family, what kind of men his sons would grow up to be and how very much he loved Jovi.

He was a modern day warrior, facing life and death as a matter of course. Charging in to whatever task life had dealt him – unphased and unafraid. And, I believe the world was better for Steve having been in it. He made the world a better place, a safer place, and a kinder place. He had a passion for life and it showed.

He loved stickball and dreamed of it becoming an Olympic sport one day. He was a legendary player and the President of the NY Emperor’s Stickball League. According to Steve, “Stickball is all about community. For me, I learned the game from my father, and others of his generation. They were my heroes, the role models we looked up to. Stickball was an important part in our tradition of teamwork, determination and community. My goal now is to reach out to the kids growing up today to make sure we continue to pass down these values.”

 

Stickball was a true calling for Steve. His wife said that he believed that there wasn’t any problem that couldn’t be worked out by a game of stickball. I think he may have had a point. Nothing like whacking balls over the rooftops and running like the wind to give you perspective. He was responsible for creating many teams across the country, starting programs for kids who might otherwise have not had the opportunity to learn about the teamwork and tradition Steve so loved. What lucky kids to have had such a great role model as Steve. He made things better, not by words but by his actions.

Steve was a man who made a difference and I believe still does. In the words of Buddha, If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. I hope that I have in some small way shown you the miracle of Steve.

Steve’s poem to his dad:

Addendum: Sharon Cannone, Steve’s cousin was kind enough to share the eulogy she delivered at Steve’s memorial service in November 2001:

There’s only one way to deal with the pain of losing my cousin Steve and the thousands of other lives that were lost on September 11. There’s only one way to come to terms with the pain and fear we feel. The only way to get beyond this is to live our lives the way my cousin chose to live his. We must be brave.

I have a lot of memories of my cousin. We grew up in the same building together and always stayed very close. A lot of memories…. But one memory in particular has been playing over and over in my mind since I learned that he was among the missing. Among Steve’s many talents a long time ago he dabbled into the world of boxing. And with just about everything else he took on, he trained long and hard to hone his skills. Well, the hard work and training paid off, because Steve qualified for the Golden Gloves and had his big night at Madison Square Garden. Steve was well represented that night by family and friends. When he entered the ring for the main event, the Garden “rocked” with applause from his fans. After the usual introductions, the fight began. But a minute or so into the fight, Steve took a punch to the chin and hit the canvas with a thud.

The moment Steve fell, I jumped out of my seat and started screaming at the top of my lungs. STEVIE GET UP!! STEVIE GET UP! I don’t remember how many times I yelled to my cousin, but all of a sudden, Steve got to one knee, shook his head, got up and beat the living daylights out of his opponent. The Garden went wild.After the fight, we all went to a bar in the City to celebrate. Steve told me that as he was lying on the canvas he heard a voice through the haze screaming his name. And that’s when the haze cleared, he said “That’s Sharon – I gotta get up”. He told me that night at the bar that it was my voice yelling his name over and over that enabled him to win the fight. I never thought I could be prouder of my cousin as I was that night — the night he fought the fight of his life. But I was wrong.

From the moment I knew that Steve was missing, I thought about that night at the Garden. Over and over I prayed, Stevie please get up. But it wasn’t in the cards this time. Even though I was joined in prayer by friends, family, the City and the whole Country. We all screamed your name Stevie, but this time your opponent was a dirty fighter who hit way below the belt.

I’ll never understand the twisted minds of terrorists who can cause pain like this. I don’t understand why some people choose to live their lives with pure hatred in their hearts instead of love. Their hatred defines who they are. Steve’s love for life, great sense of humor and truly giving heart defined who he was. He put his life on the line for his fellow man on a daily basis. And I’m very proud to have been a part of his life.

Note: For those of you in the NY area, PBS will be airing a documentary called “Bragging Rights” that covers the game and tradition of stickball. Steve is featured in this documentary and it will air Thursday, September 14th at 8PM.

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September 11th – 16th anniversary

I think that most Americans (even those who were very young at the time) remember September 11, 2001. It’s so easy to remember for me, that I can’t believe it’s been 16 years.

Over the years there have been many schools of thought on what ‘really happened.” However, that is not my focus. My focus is on the thousands of Americans who lost their lives that day.

Those Americans were father, mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, grandparents, friends, co-workers and more. They matter.

Following is a list of tributes I have written for people who lost their lives on that day. I post these tributes for the families and friends and for those of us who choose not to forget.

“I Remember Steve Mercado” 

“I remember Deborah Medwig”

“I Remember Paul Lisson – a 9/11 Tribute”

“I Remember Bruce “Chappy” Boehm – a 9/11 Tribute” 

“I Remember Peggy Hurt”

“I remember Craig Amundson – a 911 tribute”

“I Remember Ted Moy”

 

PS: Like many, I have friends and family directly in the path of Hurricane Irma. I pray for them and everyone potentially in danger. Please say a prayer for us all.

Annie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Forgetting – September 11th

never-forget-frame

Most everyone who was alive on that day, remembers where they were and what they were doing. For me, it was one of the most difficult days of my life. Most Americans and much of the world were grief-stricken, confused and angry. It brought us together in a way I’d never seen in my life.

I, like many bloggers, took part in a Project 2996 and in the ensuing years, wrote tributes to victims of 911. But as the years have passed, the enthusiasm for never forgetting has waned. Conspiracy theories have taken the place of reverence and our national cynicism has returned. That makes my heart hurt. But people move on. It’s hard to maintain grief. It’s easier to be self-involved, skeptical and worry about your manicure than to carry the weight of a national tragedy. I’m not judging, just observing.

Even I struggle with what to say to commemorate this awful piece of American history. It seems it has all been said – and there is little I can add, if anything.

I suppose all I really want to say is that I still think about that day. I still grieve for the people who died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – and for the family and friends they left behind. And I hope that all Americans take at least a moment out of their day on Sunday to say a prayer for the people that we lost and for our country and for each other.

God Bless.

Annie

I still remember

Fourteen years ago, on a fine September morning, our lives changed. We didn’t see it coming. We, never in a million years would’ve expected it. We were horrified. We were overcome with grief. We were afraid.

But true to American spirit, we banded together. We united. We bounced back. We vowed never to forget. But I think we have. A lot of us. Conspiracy theories, wars that have gone on too long and sacrificed too much, and laws enacted to protect that actually oppress, have made us weary. Have made us lose sight of the fact that we lost 2,996 lives that day. And more as the days and months wore on.

They were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, friends, co-workers and acquaintances. They can’t be replaced. And they leave a permanent void in the space they should be occupying, for their family and friends.

For many years, I was one of the bloggers involved in Project 2996. A valiant attempt originated by one blogger, DC Roe, to pay tribute to those lost lives. Following are the tributes I personally wrote – my small contribution to remembering. With a sincere hope that I could offer at least a little comfort to the families and friends who lost a loved one.

Steve Mercado

Deborah Medwig

Paul Lisson

Bruce (Chappy) Boehm

Ted Moy

Craig Amundson

Peggy Hurt

I hope you’ll join me in saying a prayer for those lost lives and the family and friends they left behind.

I Remember Ted Moy – a 911 Tribute

ted moy lg pic

Eight years ago I became involved in a project called 2996 . Which is a group of bloggers who’ve volunteered to write a tribute to a single victim of September 11th 2001. This project has had such impact that it carries on now to the 13th anniversary of that day. I have promised myself that I will never forget and as long as I have this blog that I will continue with these tributes. Each year. One person at time. I do this, not as a political statement but as an act of respect and love for those people who had the misfortune of going to work, getting on the wrong plane, acting like that day would be the same as any other. Wrong place, wrong time. Life cut too short. I honor those people and through a tribute in some very small way I am able to give them just a little bit of the life back that was taken from them. This year, I honor Ted Moy.

Ted Moy, 48 of Silver Spring, Maryland was U.S. Army civilian employee and worked at the Pentagon as a program manager. Ted was born and grew up in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Where his parents ran Veteran’s Food Market at Fifth and H streets. Growing up he helped in the store while growing up.

While on a student trip to Taiwan in 1975, Ted met his future wife, Madeline and was smitten. They shared much in common – both had traditional Chinese parents, and grew up in a neighborhood steeped in their Asian heritage. Even their families came from the same village in China, Toi Shan in Canton province.
They married in San Francisco, on July 12, 1980 – a lucky day on the Chinese calendar.

After several moves, the Moy’s settled in Ted’s boyhood home of Washington, D.C. After 14 years at the U.S. government’s Department of Defense, Ted joined the Information Management Systems Department at the Pentagon in November 1999, where he worked until his death.

According to his wife, Madeline, Ted loved eagles and on their last Christmas together he framed a poster of an eagle with the word ‘freedom’ below the picture. Ted felt a kinship to eagles and believed them to be symbols of wisdom and courage. He was a kind and caring man and loved his country – his favorite song being ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ – which his daughter’s string quartet played at his funeral. He collected flags and pictures of eagles and his wife has a picture of him decked out in a red, white and blue sweat suit, complete with a floppy stars-and-stripes hat that he wore on the Fourth of July.

The day before the attack, Ted and Madeline celebrated her birthday with a dinner out at Outback Steakhouse with their son, Daniel. The next morning, he went off to work at the Pentagon as usual. Later that morning, Madeline received a package – a birthday gift from Ted. She put it aside, planning to open it once Ted came home, then went to work herself.

Madeline got a call from her daughter Jessica, who told her that the Pentagon was on fire. “It was devastating, not knowing where he was.” She had just spoken to him at 8 o’clock that morning – Ted had called to remind her of their son’s orthodontist appointment. As the day wore on and details were revealed, Madeline said she accepted the worst – that her husband of twenty-one years had died at the Pentagon.

By all accounts, Ted was a kind, gentle and caring man, who loved his family, his country and to help others. His friends and colleagues can tell you more about him than I can:

I continue to mourn the loss of Ted, whom I worked with for many years at the Washington Navy Yard in the 1980s. He was always a gentle and likeable chap who was bound to his adoring family and serving his country through civilian DoD service. Ted was indeed proud of his Chinese-American roots and Washington DC ties, and continued to share his culture and ideals with those that surrounded him. May God continue to bless and hold close my dear friend and former colleague, Ted Moy.

I echo the comments of Mike Nepi. Ted was proud of his Chinese-American heritage and was dedicated to the service he provided as a civilian employee of the DoD.

Ted and I were DCYOP parents. Our daughters toured Austria and Germany with orchestra in 1999. Ted and I were chaperons. On this day and every Sept. 11th I think of Ted fondly. He was voted favorite chaperon by the orchestra members that year. I want his family to know that Erika (cellist) and I think of Ted and his daughter Jessica with fond memories. God Bless and embrace the Moy family not only today but everyday. Ted you are remembered and missed.

All the best to the Moy family, my prayers are with you always

Ted was a very loving, kind and sincere person and he will always be remembered.

Ted was an “extremely motivated person” who loved to help others. The father of two (Jessica, 19, and Daniel Ted, 15), he is remembered as a very loving dad. The night before his death, he spoke about the good relationship he shared with his children and the plans he had for their future. Ted, a deacon at the Spencerville church in Maryland, is also remembered as a devoted husband whose weekday routine was to call his wife three times during the day.

Bald Eagle

As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill.

Helen Keller

I hope this tribute has done him justice. My thoughts and prayers are with Ted’s family and friends. God bless.

Respectfully,
Writer Chick

I remember Craig Amundson – a 911 tribute

craig amundson - 911 tributeArmy Specialist Craig Amundson was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He grew up in the town of Anamosa where he often played pick-up football on the playground and fished at the creek with his buddies.  Craig played football at Anamosa High School and graduated in 1992.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies from the University of Iowa in Iowa City in 1996.

In his early twenties, he married Amber and together they had two children – Elliot Reed and Charlotte Marion.

Craig chose a career serving his country in the U.S. Army — he wanted to be where he could be a part of a large organization that was working in human interest.  He felt it was a perfect opportunity to use his talents in a way that was part of the bigger picture.  He believed that by working within the military he could help maintain the military focus on peacekeeping and  strategic planning.  In fact, the last two years of his life he drove to his job at the Pentagon with a visualize world peace bumper sticker on his car.

Craig worked as an enlisted specialist under Lieutenant General Timothy J. Maude doing multimedia illustration.  During his military service, Craig received the Military Achievement Award, given by General Ohle in 1999, and Expert Rifleman. He was also awarded the Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Award posthumously.

These are the ‘facts’ about Craig but as is often the case, they don’t really tell the story of a person.  From his picture I would say he was happy by nature and cheerful.  He had goals to forward the cause of world peace and so to me that meant he cared deeply about his fellow man and the human condition. As an artist, I’m sure he felt connected to others and was inspired to bring beauty into the world in whatever way he could. I think I would have liked this young man and others would have been lucky to call him a friend.

And I think we can all hope that Craig’s dream of promoting peace among all peoples will someday come true.

“It is not the length of life, but the depth.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

With respect,

Writer Chick

Today is September 11th

 

Today is September 11th, and it is the eleventh anniversary of the saddest day of my adult life. Not because I lost a friend, a co-worker or a family member but because we lost 2,997 citizens whose promise never came to fruition. Whose lives were cut short simply by a twist of fate. Not by any act they had committed or words they had spoken. Simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And we can never know what might have been because all of those might-have-beens died in the flames and rubble.

If Kevin Bacon is correct and we are all connected through six degrees of separation, then the loss of those 2,997, is also the loss of millions of acts of kindness, millions of acts of paying it forward, millions of utterances of encouragement. Paintings we will never look upon, songs we will never hear, victories we will never know, and faces we will never see again at family gatherings.

And because of the loss of those 2,997 young men and women stood up and went to fight the good fight, sometimes returning but too often not. More might-have-beens we will never know.

And I mourn the loss of those never to be known futures, those lives cut short, that promise never realized. And I pray that I will never forget and always remember. And I pray that God continues to bless those souls who we lost and those who have found a way to continue on without them.

With respect,

Writer Chick

I Rember Peggie M. Hurt – a 9/11 Tribute

She was warm, friendly, could belt out a tune and was loved by many. Peggie M. Hurt had only worked at the Pentagon as an army accountant, for two weeks before the plane struck on September 11th.

On the night of September 10th Peggie and a longtime friend, Phyllis Adams, took Peggie’s godmother out for dinner to celebrate her 86th birthday. It was a night of love and celebration and one on which they stayed out perhaps a little too late for a week day.

The 36-year-old Kenbridge, Virginia native had many friends and a large extended family of cousins and church members. And loved being a part of the Hurt family gospel singing group. Her favorite song was “The Battle Is Not Yours, It’s the Lord’s,” and she sung it often and by all accounts well.

I never knew Peggie and can only tell you what I’ve read about her, but her friends and family can tell you who she really was:

Peggy and I worked for the State at night (part-time) She was the first person I met when I arrived for orientation. Peggy was so friendly. We would chic chat at break time. What a sweet angel that is gone much too soon. – Priscilla

Peggie was my first cousin and like a big sister to me. Though the reports state Crewe, Va, her home is really Kenbridge, VA. She NEVER resided in Crewe. I have a picture to place here soon. You all are right about her sweet and kind demeanor. Her spirit was genuine and true and still lives on…I didn’t know about this memorial, but I am glad I stumbled upon it. Thank you all… Alesha Williams

I remember Peggy from high school. She had a sweet quiet demeanor about her. I was stationed in Northern California when I received the news that she was killed 9/11 and thought how could something so terrible happen to someone so sweet. Remember you always. Connie Foster-Daniels

Peggy, we love you, and we miss you! Virgie Dow

Peggy was one of my favorite cousins. Always a pleasure to be around, Peggy always had a beautiful spirit and a kind soul. One of the last times we spent together was at my sisters wedding (Wanda). We had a ball doing the “bump” down the soul train line. Every time I see a picture it breaks my heart. Peggy you will never be forgotten. Love Always – Lorinda Ridley

I worked with Peggy along with ten other ladies at the USPFO in Richmond, VA. We came to be known as the “Girls Night Out” Group. Peggy was so special to all of us. We teased her, but she was such a good sport about it, never taking offense. She had a special quality about her that was never touched by the ills of the world. What I will always remember about Peggy is that she never lost her small town, down-home personality. Peggy, we’ll always love you, and we miss you, still. The Girls Night Out Group – Mary Reede

I met Peggy Hurt in August of 2000 at the Army National Guard Readiness Center we worked in close proximity. Peggy had a loving and warm personality. She loved her church family at home and in Arlington, VA. I remember how excited she was when she received a call regarding being selected for her new job/promotion at the Pentagon. The 911 attack happened within 2 or 3 weeks after Peggy reported to her new position and the Pentagon. Remembering you always Peggy, – Wanda Thurman

Peggie was a spiritual person. Every first and third Sunday, she returned to her hometown church in Kenbridge, Virginia. It’s about a three- to four-hour drive from Northern Virginia. She sang in the choir, and with the Hurt family singers which consisted of aunts and cousins. She loved that song a lot. She was the lead vocalist on this song, and it was sung at her funeral service. –Delores Hardy, cousin

Peggie is my niece; we were much closer than that. We were raised in the same home together and were more like sisters. Over the years we were like mother/daughter relationship. I miss your beautiful smile and crazy jokes. You are miss by so many people who loves you. Margaret

Clearly Peggie will always be missed by her many friends and family members and you have to wonder what we have missed by her absence in this world. Her warmth, her kindness, her smile…

I’d like to think that she is in a better place, in another celestial choir singing this song:

With respect,
Writer Chick

For other 9/11 tributes please check project 2996

I Remember September 11th – Tenth Anniversary

Everyone in this country knows where they were on the day the planes hit the towers and a lone plane went down in a Pennsylvania field. We all know someone who was profoundly affected by loss because of the attack or suffered a personal and unimaginable loss ourselves.

There are images that will forever remain in our memories – the wreckage of steel and concrete, the loss of human life, the tears, the grey ash that covered Manhattan – immovable objects tumbling to the ground.

And we became one nation, truly on that day. Our love of our country, our fellow citizens and freedom was on display with pride. With few exceptions the rest of the world mourned with us and the people responsible indeed heard from us.

We vowed to never forget. I’d like to think that we have all kept that vow. I’d like to think that every American will say a prayer for those we lost and their loved ones. I’d like to think that at least on this day we show one another more kindness, understanding and love.

There will be many ceremonies on Sunday, some official and some not so official. But I believe all of us will do something to honor our 911 families and our brave men and women who continue to stand the watch and keep us safe. I know I will.

Please feel free to express your thoughts here. And God bless America – God bless us all.

Respectfully,
Writer Chick