SEPTEMBER 11 (from the SupremeAdvocacyLetter of 11 September 2003)
Giovanna and I were in New York City with another couple the weekend before September 11, THE September 11. Walked all over the city, including past World Trade 1 & 2. On the plane back home, the other couple gave me a silk tie — the Statue of Liberty on a background of red, white and blue stripes. Put it at the back of my tie rack when got home. The week following, a Tuesday, on Sept. 11, had to get up early for a conference call with some lawyers in the Maritimes. Pulled on a blue suit, fumbled around for a blue tie. In the half-light pulled out the one at the back — the silk "lady liberty" with the red, white and blue stripes. Wore it into the office. The tie got noticed of course. Then the madness: "A plane hit the World Trade Center". Terrible accident. Then the second plane hit the second tower. No accident. Some said "Take the tie off". I kept it on. Our building in Ottawa was evacuated (the Israeli Embassy is upstairs). I stayed.
My father in Scotland phoned later — Damian Meehan, my second cousin — was missing. 32 years old. 92nd floor, Tower 1. He'd call me. Damian never called anyone.
Giovanna and I returned to New York City last weekend. Walked to where the towers used to be. Found the list of names. Vietnam-memorial-like, touched Damian's name. Also touched the name right above Damian's, of a William Meehan. Don't know who William is, whether he is a relative. But he is a relative to his own family, and that family misses him.
I've worn that tie only once since — last September 11. I'm wearing it for the third time today, right now. Will wear it once a year, every 9/11, to remember, every year. For Damian Meehan, for William, for me too. The tie's now at the front of the rack. I see it every morning: don't want to remember just once a year; I remember every day, every morning. Always will.
In response to the above, over the next few days, we received the following emails from lawyers in Canada and elsewhere.
"Just wanted to thank you for your comments on 9/11. As I write this it's a Sunday morning in Edmonton and I'm at the office. I'm going to leave earlier than I might have to go home and spend Sunday with my kids. Thanks for helping me remember what's really important."
– Rick Mallett, Edmonton, Alberta
"Emotion is appropriate to September 11, and I like it when my colleagues in law show their humanity — it takes courage to do so."
– Sandy Jakab, British Columbia Securities Commission, Vancouver, BC
"I was on top of the WTC in New York 2 weeks before 9/11. I went back last summer and visited 'ground zero', and I can say that it was a very moving, spiritual moment. Watching it all on TV was surreal; standing on the edge looking at the site was a reality. Tears come easily. I have friends in NYC, many of whom have friends and relatives who died on 9/11. As you say, never to be forgotten."
– Sean Foreman, Merrick Holm, Halifax, Nova Scotia
"We need to remember what we have lost and cherish everything we have."
– Dick Wilson, Parlee McLaws, Edmonton, Alberta
"9/11 is a day I know I will always remember and reflect on. It is a shame that in our hectic day-to-day life we tend to forget the importance of the little things in life, which we so often take for granted. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and for helping me to remember that life is precious and no matter how busy life gets, we need to take the time to reflect and appreciate what we have."
– Dana Drake, Rogers Communications Law Department, Toronto, Ontario.
"I am compelled to write you today, to thank you for sharing your painful 9/11 story with us. I too have been in those towers several times and could very easily have been one of the names on the memorial. Your account moved me to tears — for your loss, for our collective loss of lives and sense of innocence. On this and every other anniversary, I will always remember."
– Rebecca Keeler, Dimethaid Research, Markham, Ontario
"I just read your comments and thoughts on September 11, 2003. I am Jewish and memory is an integral part of being Jewish. My father passed away twenty-five years ago this past March 24, 2003 and there isn't a day that I don't think of him. I lost my best friend, Osher Green, seven years ago this past January 2003 to cancer. There isn't a day that I don't think of him. I too have been thinking about the WTC Center victims and their families. May they all rest peacefully in their eternal resting place and may their families take comfort in the knowledge that they are resting peacefully."
– Lawrie Jacques, North York, Ontario
"Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Eugene. At the risk of appearing maudlin, you are able to convey emotion and provoke reflection by the use of simple language and sentence structure. I'm gearing up for a month long trial that starts Monday. The fact that I am distracted by your words sufficiently to reply is testament to their quality."
– Greg Cann, Patterson Palmer, PEI
"As I drove to work this morning I thought of all those people whose lives changed on this day — forever — and for all of us who now think twice differently about the world and how and when we travel although it has not stopped me from traveling entirely. I just make my plans a little differently and with more care. I also take "life as a lawyer" less seriously. Thanks for the personal reminder of how we are all connected."
– Margaret Matheson, Nepean, Ontario
"The stories of my family and friends in New York were ones of miraculous coincidental escape (my cousin who worked in one of the towers was late for work because of a subway breakdown; another friend was supposed to start work in one of the towers that morning got a phone call saying "we can't give you your orientation in the morning, so come in at noon") which give me an overwhelming sense of the tenuousness of life. Your note reminded me of the value of lives lost."
– Margaret Hollis, Director Legal & Constitutional Division, Government of Nunavut
"The world got a lot smaller that day and I think I understand the need to "never forget" a lot better."
– Robert Reimer, Victoria, BC
"Was moved by your 9/11 story. Synchronicity...SynchroNYcity."
– Kelly Payne, Yellowknife, NT