Michael P. O’Brien – A Memorial Tribute
Michael P. O’Brian died in an act of war against our nation. On September 11, 2001 this act of reckless hate killed 2,996 men and women, and destroyed their families and their futures.
We must remember what happened in order to give honor to those that died that day.
From Esquire.com article by Tom Junod, www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0903-SEP-FALLINGMAN
“They began jumping not long after the first plane hit the North Tower, not long after the fire started. They kept jumping until the tower fell. They jumped through windows already broken and then, later, through windows they broke themselves. They jumped to escape the smoke and the fire; they jumped when the ceilings fell and the floors collapsed; they jumped just to breathe once more before they died. They jumped continually, from all four sides of the building, and from all floors above and around the building’s fatal wound. They jumped from the offices of Marsh & McLennan, the insurance company; from the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond-trading company; from Windows on the World, the restaurant on the 106th and 107th floors — the top. For more than an hour and a half, they streamed from the building, one after another, consecutively rather than en masse, as if each individual required the sight of another individual jumping before mustering the courage to jump himself or herself. One photograph, taken at a distance, shows people jumping in perfect sequence, like parachutists, forming an arc composed of three plummeting people, evenly spaced. Indeed, there were reports that some tried parachuting, before the force generated by their fall ripped the drapes, the tablecloths, the desperately gathered fabric, from their hands. They were all, obviously, very much alive on their way down, and their way down lasted an approximate count of ten seconds. They were all, obviously, not just killed when they landed but destroyed, in body though not, one prays, in soul. One hit a fireman on the ground and killed him; the fireman’s body was anointed by Father Mychal Judge, whose own death, shortly thereafter, was embraced as an example of martyrdom after the photograph — the redemptive tableau — of firefighters carrying his body from the rubble made its way around the world.”
Michael O’Brien was 42 years old when he was killed by the enemies of this nation. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, who lost 658 men and women that day. He was a good man, meticulous, dedicated, and committed to his family. He was the father of three children: Derek, 14, Sarah, 12, and Kevin, 7. He and his wife had just been remarried in Las Vegas by Elvis, in honor of their eighteenth wedding anniversary. He loved camping and bicycle riding, and he coached his kid’s soccer teams.
His sister Bridget is quoted as saying “He raised the bar on fatherhood.”
900 people came to his memorial service. That is a lot of people to come to a memorial service. You can’t buy that kind of love and affection, it comes from a life well-lived, full of joy and expectation.
My message to Michael’s family, and especially his children: He will be cherished in memoriam from this day forward. He will be cherished because he was my countryman, because he was innocent and he died needlessly. Those who knew him will remember him for what he was–a good man, an honorable man. He will be remembered and honored by me because he was an American, in the finest and truest sense of the word.
He will never be forgotten, not while there is breath in my lungs and ink in my pen.