Today I join thousands of bloggers across the world, each of us honoring one of the victims of September 11th. I cannot help but begin this tribute thinking about grief, the overwhelming tidal wave of sadness that even 5 years later can rock the lives of the family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors of someone who has died. I lost both my parents in a fiery Pan Am plane crash at age 12 in 1974 and the anniversary of their death always brings back echoes of the abyss of seeming bottomless grief at their loss.
John Patrick Gallagher was just a few years younger than my parents when he died: only 31 years old. He left behind his wife Francine to whom he had been married just a year, and his son James Jordan, 2 months old at the time. He worked as a trader for Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices sat in the heart of the decimated world trade center. John and 700 hundred other of his work colleagues perished that day as the Terrorist attack struck their World Trade Center headquarters. On September 11, two of John’s longtime childhood friends perished as well: both firefighters missing in the rubble.
Thousands streamed out for John’s memorial service: the tear-streaked faces of relatives and friends packing the church. John grew up in the Bronx, and was a New York City boy through and through. After St. Raymond’s High School, he graduated from Manhattan College in 1991. He was remembered as gregarious and loving, and devoted to his family.
The Friday before the World Trade Center attack, he skipped out on work so he could go an adventure with Francine and James Jordan for a day at the Bronx Zoo.
At John’s funeral, Shannon, age 10, recited one of her uncle’s favorite poems, "What Shall I Say About the Irish?" which reads in part:
He’s in love with the ocean, the earth and the skies; He’s enamored with beauty, wherever it lies. He’s victor and victim, a star and a cloud; but mostly he’s Irish, in love with his God.