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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Remembering this day

September 11th 2001 started off as a beautiful morning in Kansas. My middle child was one week old, he had slept all through the night, and I awoke fully rested and prepared to deal with a new infants problems. He slept soundly in his wooden basinet as I switched on the television to watch Sally Jessie Raphael and eat my breakfast. A normal routine, something I picked up while pregnant. I watched as an airplane hit a building, I thought how sad and I wonder when that happened as I went into the kitchen to get my first cup of coffee. I assumed that the talk show was doing a program on disasters caught on tape. It wasn't until I was half finished with my mug of dark coffee when I realized that I wasn't watching Sally, I was watching live news and this plane, then planes, where in New York. Tears sprung to my eyes and I thought to my family, who was on those planes? My family is full of airline workers. They have been part of the flying world for years upon years. Was my uncle on that plane, what friends were working?

I stepped out onto my front porch to have a cigarette, something I hadn't done in a year. My suburban neighborhood was eerily quiet. No children were playing, no cars on the road. Even the pets seemed to know what was going on.

I went back into my home and rocked my child as I watched the horror on the television, mourning friends that I might have lost, and friends that would be change forever. Unfortunately I did lose 2 friends on that day, and almost lost a future friend. Dear anulla you are in my thoughts today.

I stumbled upon a website called 2,996 Project, and signed up immediately. I could tell you of my friends I lost, yet for some reason, a random person seemed more fitting to me. Random. . . not such a fitting word, I was given this man to honor for a reason, and as I type out my words I know I will discover that reason.

His name is Dennis A. Cross. I set forth to learn more of this man, to find things that would help my readers put a face and personality to this hero. I read page after page of prayers and love sent to him. A man of his family, a family that any father could, would be proud of. They have persevered. His wife JoAnn ran the Turkey Trot in memory of her beloved husband. For 18 years Battalion Chief Dennis Cross ran that very race. I have read that over and over, in different articles, and every time it makes me smile. I do not know this family, I do not know Dennis Cross, though I now feel like this is a man that I can and will admire. He was a strong, and dedicated man. At the age of 60 he would not just stand around and watch a building burn, he would charge right in. Captain Fearless, seems like such a fitting name that his friends, and “brothers” gave him.

Two thirds of Dennis Cross's life was spent being a firefighter. "He wanted to be the first to put in 50 years on the job." JoAnn Cross, his wife of 37 years, told The Chicago Tribune. I have no doubt that he would have been. His best friend Brian O'Flaherty saw Dennis's love for the fire department, and it convinced him to join as well. Mr. O'Flaherty was there when the south tower fell, he knew that his friend was lost.

Dennis Cross was a man of the outdoors. Skiing, running, sailing, playing ball with his children. He loved his family and his job. He was a lucky man to have so many loving people surround him in his life.

He died in rescue. Buried under the remains of the south tower. He was found seven days later.

Dennis Cross was a man of simple pleasures, loving chocolate, strawberry ice cream, a hot meal and a good beer, his daughter Laura tells people. A man after my own heart, I say. He was a man that I would love to have in my life, a mentor, a pillar. I think my readers will agree. Simple pleasures, a caring man, loyal and devoted. I wish I could have shaken his hand and thanked him for everything, and I mean everything not just his job, that he has done with his life.

To his wife JoAnn, his daughters Lisa and Laura, to his grand children, I send my love. To his son Brian, a New York Firefighter, I salute you and wish all of you well. You had many years with an incredible man.

"Take care of men, and men will take care of you."

Dennis A Cross

Battalion Chief Dennis Cross
Battalion 57

Laid to Rest
on September 22, 2001


Anonymous said...

What a lovely and fitting tribute Phelan.

My thoughts are with the families of all those who lost their lives on the 11th September 2001.

Anonymous said...

leaving a bunch of hugs for you

Anonymous said...

A touching tribute.

Jules said...

Nice tribute. May he, and your 2 friends, and everyone who died that day, rest in peace.

Cheryl said...

That was beautiful, Phelan. I'm sorry for your friends, and for everyone touched by such tragedy.

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