When an elderly friend stopped by to “see us” on a Saturday afternoon – just a few weeks after September 11, 2001 – we noticed a colorful pin (a picture of the Twin Towers) affixed to the lapel of his sport coat. It bore the inscription, “9-11-01 Liberty State Park.” “Such a wonderful tribute!” I declared as I kindly greeted him “Well,” he sighed, “that’s why I stopped by today. I have a story.”
Our friend began that day –September 11, 2001- “giving back” to the country he loved, cherished and served. A volunteer at Liberty State Park, one of New Jersey’s “most dramatic parks” with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, this very proud Italian-American expected to spend this “picture-perfect” day sharing his talents with visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
But in a moment – in the twinkling of an eye – it all changed.
There, on the shores of the Hudson River and in the shadow of Lady Liberty, our friend saw much more than the horrific collapse of the Twin Towers. Our friend witnessed the unthinkable: the loss of a son. “My son worked in the south tower,” he said. I saw the explosion…and then the fire…and I tried to call my son… and I kept calling…but I couldn’t reach him. And when the towers collapsed, I knew that my son – my boy – was lost.”
And then - as our friend tearfully concluded his poignant narrative, he removed the pin from the lapel on his sport coat and lovingly placed it into my quivering hand with this unpretentious and yet profound request:
Will you wear this pin for my son?
Nine years have passed since our friend recounted his tender, heart-rending story of loss. And on this, the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the treasured pin is, once again, proudly worn by the friend who, on a Saturday afternoon so many years ago, made a promise.
In memory of the hero whom we shall never meet, and in tribute to a grieving dad who never had the chance to say good-bye to a beloved son, this pin, which probably “cost” pennies is, today, an invaluable symbol of hope, strength and honor. Because it’s not just a pin, it’s a promise.
Submitted by Anonymous
We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories