In a Word . . .

. . . 9/11

 

Last week, I wrote about my mother’s 91st birthday. But it was also her twin brother Pat’s 91st birthday. (Belated) Happy Birthday Uncle. Based in Brooklyn, New York, he is in good health.

There can’t be too many 91-year-old twins in this world.

Pat is more reserved than my mother. There was a very brief debate recently over which was born first and the opinion was unanimous. It was agreed it was him as she, probably, kicked him out.

Pat has spent most of his life in the US. Retired now, he and his business partners owned O’Hara’s on Cedar Street in Lower Manhattan, right under the Twin Towers. On a visit there in the mid-1990s, as we went for a stroll near those towers, Pat said to me and my mother: “You know, they’ll get them yet.”

He meant “they” would take down the towers.

At the time, I thought that was over the top.

It followed the 1993 attack when a bomb was detonated under the North Tower with the intention of crashing it into the South Tower, bringing both down and killing thousands of people. It killed six people and injured more than 1,000.

On that morning in September 2001, Pat was at home in Brooklyn when he saw a plane hit the North Tower on TV. He rang O’Hara’s and told the staff to “get the hell out of there”. They did.

None was injured though O’Hara’s windows were blown out and the roof was badly damaged when the towers fell. It was then requisitioned by city authorities as they cleared the debris.

Pat knew many who died in 9/11 – people from offices in both towers used to have their lunches in O’Hara’s. And there were all those firefighters based nearby at Greenwich Street, who were regulars. Of the approximately 2,750 people who died there in 9/11, 343 were firefighters.

Then, when it re-opened in spring 2002, O’Hara’s became a local for workers at Ground Zero. A poster framed at its front door bears the names and faces of the 343 fire fighters who died in 9/11.

Pat is out of there now. Golf is his thing these days.

9/11 refers to the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the US by al-Qaeda in which 2,996 people in total were killed and more than 6,000 injured.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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