Last Saturday, my family and I visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York. It was one of the saddest events of my life. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. I remember exactly how I felt while it was happening and the simmering anger that remains to this day, but I wasn’t really ready for what the Memorial and Museum had in store for me.

Saturday was, well, overwhelming is the only word I can think of. So much heartache for the survivors, the victims and those they left behind.

IMG_7411The memorial is beautiful, two wells with water flowing into them marking the footprints of the twin towers. The names of all the victims are inscribed into the bronze parapets surrounding the twin Memorial pools. Behind the pools, the new Freedom Tower rises 1,776 feet from street level.

The museum is underground and is filled with all the horror, heroism and humanity of that terrible day. Displays include smashed fire engines and police cars, part of the aircraft that were hijacked and crashed, work ID’s, credit cards, wallets, shoes, rings and  assorted other bits and pieces of everyday life.

The displays are tasteful and graphic. They show how people lived and died. The parts that choked me up were the voicemails left for and by the victims. LIke the one from United Flight 93 Flight Attendant CeeCee Lyles.

In the end, it was all a little too much for me. I rushed through the last third of the museum. I just could not take any more. It’s all so sad. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

Stepping outside pushed the sadness a little back into my consciousness. It was a beautiful day, reminiscent of the weather on September 11th, 2001.

I took a deep breath and as I was walking and speaking with my family members, I noticed what I thought was a tissue carelessly discarded on the bronze name plate circling the South Pool. It was, in fact, a wilted carnation, and just a few feet from it was a fresh red rose. The rose as been placed in the “C” in Christopher Quackenbush’s name. IMG_7419

Once I returned home, I took a few minutes to find out who Christopher was.

He was born just a couple of years before I was. He was a founding partner in a law firm with offices on the 104th floor of the South Tower. He was married and had three children. He was an ardent Mets fan and grew up playing with Creepy Crawlers, baseball cards, and pretending he was an astronaut. He drank Tang, “just like the astronauts,” as Madison Avenue repeatedly reminded us all during Saturday morning cartoons.

When I think of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, I think not so much of the 2,996 people killed in the attacks. It’s too big a number to fully comprehend. It’s too abstract. I think about CeeCee Lyles and Christopher Quakenbush and the other individuals I was introduced to at the Museum.

Somebody put a flower in Christopher’s inscribed name, somebody who remembers him and wants the world to know that he’s remembered.

He is remembered more now then yesterday because now I know there was a man named Christopher Quakenbush who was a son, husband, father and friend and I, too, will always remember him.cq 10x10

7 Responses to “Remembered”

  1. 1 Q

    Thanks so much for the kind words and thoughts. So many, so sad…

  2. 2 STB

    If only you had gotten to meet CQ you would know that everything you read about how great a person my friend was is an understatement. As this was being read I thought about how Chris and I would be on the phone right now agonizing over Colon’s effort today. How I yearn for that type of agony. Thank you for your wonderful story.

  3. 3 B

    Thank you for remembering the most thoughtful, kindest and gracious person I have ever known.

  4. 4 Laurie Addeo

    Chris gave back to ,any and was a kind wise soul…..he is missed!

  5. 5 Jennifer M

    Thank you very much for sharing this and for taking the time to learn about my uncle Christopher Quackenbush. He was an inspiration not only to me but to many others while he was alive. I actually placed that rose in his name two weeks ago! I volunteer with the museum and try to bring him a flower or two before every shift. Just to let him know I’m thinking of him and as you said above, to let everyone know he is remembered. I’ve always hoped that one of the many flowers I’ve left on his name would inspire someone to learn about him and hear his inspirational story. It warms my heart knowing that actually happened. Thank you again for sharing your experience and for never forgetting!!

    • Jennifer, I read this aloud to my 7th graders each September 11th. Your uncle’s memory is being passed on to new people each and every year. I hope all is well with you.

  6. 7 Cin Griswold

    Thank you for sharing your words and heart, Mark. I could never find the words. I visited the Memorial. I could not bring myself to go into the museum. I was flooded with memories. The carefree times with Timothy Stout. Hearing of the loss of Lisa Gordenstein. Still impossible to understand.

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