Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9/11 Vignette: Joseph Kellard

Every patriotic American suffered when Islamic terrorists killed nearly 3,000 innocent people on Sept. 11, 2001. I was a reporter then for the Oceanside/Island Park Herald. Although I was deeply outraged and dispirited by this atrocity, the aftermath provided me with invaluable experiences.

While I didn’t lose a loved one that day, through my many talks with 9/11 families I came to empathize more intensely with those who did.

I can still hear the chilling, soulful cries of Amy Haviland, an Oceanside mother of two young children who on 9/11 lost both her husband, Timothy, a vice president at Marsh & McLennan, and her brother, FDNY firefighter Robert Spear.

I remember visiting the Freeport home of Lauraine Marchese after her daughter Laura’s remains at Ground Zero were identified months later, and how this news shattered her mother’s last, desperate hope that somehow, some way she was still alive somewhere.

I learned that it’s horrible enough for a loved one to, say, be murdered by a common street criminal, but to have him perish in a mass slaughter splashed across television screens and newspapers worldwide magnifies the horror dramatically.

As a journalist, I feel honored and privileged that these families willingly shared their raw thoughts, anger and anguish with me. Sometimes their pain brought me to tears. Their suffering further grounded the horror and evil of the terrorist attacks — and thereby solidified my intense conviction that the jihadists and their supporters must be brought to justice.

Unfortunately, over the past decade this sense of justice has faded in many Americans. But thankfully it endured with me, in part because of the vivid memories I have covering the families most directly impacted by that horrific day. They will never forget the wrongs done them. Neither must we.

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