I REMEMBER BRUCE ‘CHAPPY’ BOEHM
The Writing Life, Books, and Things That Make Me Go, "Ah"
I woke up to discover one of my heroes died today. Aretha Franklin, first lady of soul.
She was so amazing that words defy one to describe how she made you feel when she sang.
I grew up listening to this firecracker. She was my hero. She gave me courage. She gave me attitude. She gave me pride in being a girl. Yeah, baby. Girl power.
In my group of pals, R E S P E C T was our anthem. Our declaration of independence. Our snappy retort to the mean boys. And to this day, whenever I hear that song my spine gets a little straighter, my shoulders go back and I raise my head a little bit higher.
I will miss her. I can never thank her enough for what she gave me. I hope the angels know how lucky they are that she is singing in their choir now.
Let’s sing it out, one last time….
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.
I hope you’ll join me in saying a prayer for those lost lives and the family and friends they left behind.
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.
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:
For other 9/11 tributes please check project 2996
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.
For several years now, a group of bloggers have banded together to write remembrances of September 11th victims for the 2996 project. And as the years pass, I suppose it is easier to forget and maybe some people want to. I as well as others, however, have promised never to forget. Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed that day through no fault of their own – simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the saying goes, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
This year, I remember Bruce. Affectionately known as Chappy – although I couldn’t find out how or why he got his nickname – you’ve got to like a guy named Chappy, don’t you?
Bruce was one of many Cantor Fitzgerald employees who did not survive the attacks. He was strong, athletic and handsome. From all accounts a great father, husband and friend. Even though he was a financial broker for a prestigious firm, he was also a physical fitness advocate who regularly swam, biked and competed in marathons and triatholons.
He loved the ocean and often told his wife, Irene “The beach is my church.” He shared his love of the ocean with his daughters Brittany and Stacey. Like their father, they went on to be lifeguards, helping others, and looking out for people in trouble. And I’m sure, making him proud.
Chappy loved Hofstra University’s football, basketball and lacrosse teams, and attended most home games. In short, it seems that he was a great guy, with a lovely family and a love for life. Sadly, he was taken from his family on the day of his 19th wedding anniversary.
Rather than trying to speak for his family I will instead offer his wife’s words:
“The pain is there every single day. Time does not heal. You learn to kind of put your grief in your back pocket and carry it along with you. My husband is on my mind 24 hours a day. I don’t think that will ever go away and that’s good. I have memories of him. They’re not sad memories. We talk about him all the time. We laugh about the quirky things he would do. He would be happy that we’re happy I had 19 wonderful years. As sad as it is, at least I have that. Those memories will never go away.”
I cannot know what was in Chappy’s mind when he went into work that day or his last thoughts. Nor can I know what the loss of this man in his family’s and friend’s lives has meant. I can only say that the world is a little less happy because he is missing from it. And maybe someday when you’re at the beach you might catch a glint of something special, the spirit of a man who loved that vast expanse of water and whose sparkle reflects on aquamarine waves.
With honor and respect,
About three years ago I became involved in a project called 2996. Which is an aggregate of bloggers who volunteered to write a tribute to a single victim of September 11th 2001. The project had such impact that it carries on. I have promised myself that as long as I have a platform like this blog that I will continue to do 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 like any other day. 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 Paul Lisson.
Paul was forty-five and worked for Pitney Bowes in the World Trade Center. By all accounts he was very a shy man and kept to himself much of the time. An only child, he grew up with a mentally ill mother, trying to take care of himself and her at the same time. It must have been very difficult and lonely for him to have such a burden as a child and even as an adult. His parents were divorced and so he was the main emotional support for his mother.
Despite his shy and retiring ways anyone who worked with Paul or knew him, spoke of his kindness and care toward other people. If it was your birthday or your anniversary, you could expect Paul to take you to lunch, surprise with a bouquet of balloons or something equally kind and thoughtful. He was just sweet that way – perhaps because he grew up with the special sensitivity of a child who had a vulnerable parent, perhaps just because it was native in him to be kind.
He never married and lived alone in his Brooklyn home – was a conscientious worker and often arrived early at work. Though in his very quiet way he had touched lives and had friends whom he cared about and who cared about him – which was apparent when nearly forty people arrived for his memorial dinner. His father, though they were estranged for many years, was also thankfully a part of Paul’s life and it was a terrible loss, when he realized that he had lost his son.
At the memorial, Bill Kirkhuff, an old family friend, described the Ed Sullivan routine that Paul had spontaneously performed as an 8-year- old. Mr. Vidal marveled over Paul’s utter reliability. Sidney Lisson, a retired graphics artist, discovered that his son had won attendance awards and had a personnel file brimming with commendations. “I’m so full of grief, still,” Sidney Lisson said. “My heart is absolutely shattered.”
It’s amazing isn’t it that we often learn about the people we know, so much more once they are gone than we knew about them in life. That seemed to be the case with Paul as well. Though, unfortunately there was not a lot of information I could find about Paul – it seemed to me that the people who were in his life cared deeply about him, that he was a constant cheerful presence in their lives and that they continue to miss his shy smile and kind nature. It’s always a tragedy when we lose a gentle soul – the one who always smiles when they see us, remembers our birthday, makes us feel a little bit special. That was Paul Lisson.
He liked foreign films, introduced to him by his friend Vera, mystery novels, discussing current events, ballgames and wristwatches. He was shy and kind – making his own quiet way in the world.
His friend Vera tells this story about Paul:
‘‘I’ll tell you a funny story about Paul,” she added. ”He was supposed to work 9 to 5 every day and he got there at 8 every day. He was always there early. One morning he got there and some people were robbing our computers. Paul offered them coffee and held the door for them. That’s how good and kind he was. He couldn’t conceive that someone would be robbing us.”
On Septemeber 11th :
Genya Sookoo, a Pitney Bowes worker who was with him on Sept. 11. After smelling smoke, she said, they and a third clerk began to descend the stairs. Then came the public address announcement that the problem was in Tower 1 and that it was safe to return to their desks. ”And at that point,” Ms. Sookoo recalled, ”he said he was busy and was going back.” She said she begged him to keep going, but he told her he was dizzy and just wanted to return to his desk.
”It’s funny,I had the pleasure of telling him how much I cherished his friendship that morning and he said the same thing.” She added, ”I used to tell him I wished I had a friend whom I could get him together with. Cause he was just so lonely and I’d feel so bad about it.”
Ms. Sookoo told these stories to Mr. Lisson’s father, Sidney, who called her in the days after the attack to try to determine his son’s fate. Father and son lived just blocks apart in Bay Ridge and, in his view, they had been working on a relationship tainted by hardship and regret. ”I think we were developing a very decent father-son relationship in the last few years,” he said. He was not surprised that Paul had turned back to his office. ”He would tend to be ruffled by that kind of thing, and he was kind of sensitive,” said Mr. Lisson, a retired calligrapher and graphic artist. ”I don’t know how to explain it. He had a very bad adolescence living with an emotionally unstable mother.”
I’m sure that there are many people out there who still miss the shy man with the kind heart and big smile – I hope that they have found peace with the loss of their friend and son and that Paul’s spirit lives on in each of them.
Your smile never fades
from the memory
who received its gift
with respect – wc
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