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.


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.

American Sniper – Movie Review

I wanted to see American Sniper for a while but my bad, never got around to catching it in the theater. Or maybe I just knew that it was the kind of film I didn’t want to watch in public because certain stories are so gut wrenching.

I watched it last night and I’m still affected by it. Which I suppose is the mark of a good film – that you’d be thinking about it the next day.

Clint Eastwood approached the story in his usual understated style and treated it with respect and sensitivity. His depiction of war, military life on and off the battlefield, and our troops was real without the usual Hollywood romanticization or exploitation that so many of these types of films possess.

The film is the story of Chris Kyle, distinguished by having the highest number of recorded sniper shots of any soldier in American military history. His nickname was the Legend. But Kyle wasn’t the kind of man who cared about fame or flattering nicknames, he cared about his fellow soldiers and keeping them out of harm’s way. He cared about keeping our guys alive. And it’s what drove him to do four tours in Iraq.

The film chronicles Chris’s military life and family life in between his tours. And it’s hard to evaluate the story because it’s not a story, it’s what happened to one man. It’s his story. The story of a man who wanted to make a difference and did. The story of a man who put others before himself. The story of a man who lived his beliefs and principles. A man that most of us would’ve liked and been happy to share a beer with or call a friend. Sadly, his devotion and desire to help, ultimately led to his death. Not on the battlefield but at home.

I highly recommend this film not because it glorifies war but because it celebrates the perseverance of the human spirit. It shows that one man can make a difference and did. And it honors those who stand the watch so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted every day.


I thank Chris Kyle for his service. I thank his family for their sacrifice.

Writer Chick

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.

Writer Chick

Think About our Veterans Today

Today is Veteran’s Day and it is a day dedicated to remembering all those who have stood the watch for our country and fellow citizens.  Many of them gave their very lives, so that we could live free and sleep peacefully at night knowing that we and our loved ones were safe.

Too many others have been discarded by society and are homeless, living in parks panhandling for change and wandering the streets alone.  While elected leaders live in the lap of luxury and argue about whether or not our veterans deserve medical treatment, housing or other benefits – while they and their families suffer.

Thankfully, the private sector cares about our veterans and there are hundreds of organizations and churches that reach out to our veterans to help them find their way home.  This video is a perfect and touching example:


Pray for our veterans today and every day – and if you get a chance reach out and say thanks, and offer a helping hand. You never know what a difference such a simple thing could make to someone who needs it.

God Bless

Writer Chick

Memorial Day Memories

Flags at GraveWhen I was a kid I always loved Memorial Day.  Mostly because it meant we’d all pile into Dad’s red chevy and head to the park.

Once we got to the park, the fun started. There we would converge with a bevy of aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends to start putting the feast together.

Mom always made the best potato salad, Aunt Aggie brought her jello salad, Dad and the men comandeered the barbecue and threw on the dogs and burgers. The smell was heavenly and the tables were laden with everything from deviled eggs to watermelons as big as me.

And there were plenty of other families doing the same.  It almost seemed like a big old block party.

The park was just across the way from a small amusement park and my brother Alan, my cousin Tom and I would sneak to the edge of the property and watch the screaming people digging on the roller coaster. We’d lie in the grass and watch for hours, daydreaming about taking that big ride.

We were too little – but we sure could dream.

Eventually Mom would call us back and we ate until we had to lay flat on our backs in the grass because it was the only position that didn’t make our stomachs hurt.

The bees and flies buzzed overhead and we swatted and sweated in the humid air but was still the best day of the year.

Once the sun went down, we each got 6 sparklers that we could light and wave around.  I always ended up stepping on one and burning my foot – couldn’t keep shoes on me.  But I still loved it.

Flags at GraveThen the fireworks, where we oo’d and ahh’d throughout the entire display.

Then back in the red Chevy and falling asleep in the backseat…

When I was older I learned the meaning of Memorial Day – to honor Americans who had died in the defence of our great nation.

I have to admit, it made the holiday a little less gleeful and yet more important.

Today, I still love the holiday because it harkens the memories of family outings, good food and innocent fun – but it also inspires pride in my country and the people who sacrificed everything so we could have so much.

I hope at some point during the day you’ll say a little prayer of thanks and blessing to those people who have made what we have possible.  I know I will.

Have a great and safe Memorial Day.

Are You the Hero of Your Own Story?

are you the hero of your own story?

No, I’m not talking about fiction here (although that could be a topic for another day).  I’m talking about you.  Your life, your business, your deal, your story.

The reason I’m asking is because I’ve noticed that there is so much hero worship going on these days.  You know?  Movie stars, singers, computer geniuses, marketing gurus, TV doctors, judges and lawyers…

In fact, this story claims that we worship Tom Hanks the most.  Really?  Tom Hanks?  Like what does Tom Hanks have to do with our day to day lives?  Bupkis, if you ask me.

Most people I know are busting their humps to get through day.  Work, kids, school, business, family obligations, rush hour traffic, grocery shopping – if you ask me it takes a true hero to face that stuff.

Not people who have private security guards and a team of assistants to fulfill their every need.  I mean wouldn’t you love to have Tom Hanks’ staff for a day so you could lounge by the pool or even read a book for two hours without being interrupted?

Maybe your hero is in the last place you look

We all love role models, people we want to aspire to be like, whether because of their smarts, their success or the great stuff they do.  It’s understandable.  Most people strive to learn and be better in some way.  I think that’s great.

But and it’s a big but, I think in our desire to be a new, better and improved self we often overlook how pretty darn great we already are.

Now, I’m not suggesting that people should drown themselves in self-love, but I am suggesting that maybe we should give ourselves a break.

 Try this

Just for the heck of it, sit down and try to write down all the things you do in the course of a day, or in the course of a week.  I’d be willing to bet that you’d fill up a lot of pages.  And when you’re done look it over.  Now consider this: is that the work of an ordinary human or some super hero who can drive, put on mascara, make the kids lunch and do a conference call at once?  Could a mere mortal juggle everyone’s schedule, hold down a job; take everybody to practice and school while managing to look like Julia Roberts?  I think not.

So the next time you get all down on yourself about your shortcomings, throw on your super hero/heroine cape (a sheet will do if yours is at the cleaners), laugh you best bad guy thwarting laugh and sing out, “Here I am to save the day!”

I guarantee it will make you feel better just to be your own hero for the day.

So, what death defying task did you perform today?  Tell me all about it in the comments.


Copyright 2013


To Our Veterans

veteran's day

To all our veterans I would just like to say thank you. Not Happy Veteran’s Day – but thank you. Thank you for answering the call to defend your country, thank you for your sacrifice, thank you to your family and friends for letting you honor your country and your countrymen with your service.  It is not enough, it will never be enough. But thank you.