McConnors corner
Remembering The 343
By Sean McConnor
Sep 7, 2008 - 8:31:17 AM

I don't want you to think I am a cheapskate, but, between trips to Super Cuts, I go to a beauty college to get my hair trimmed. It costs (with mostly a tip) only $8.00 and the students do a cool job.

Well last Saturday, I was getting my trim, wearing my weekend attire of shorts and a sleeveless tee-shirt (which was a regular tee-shirt that I altered), when the cosmologist finished and one of her fellow students observed the tattoo on my shoulder and asked me what it was.

I replied, "It is a little fireman in remembrance of the 343 firefighters who died in 9-11." In fact, the little fireman has "9-11" written on his fireman's hat. I got the tattoo at a place in Highland Park that gives them (9-11 tattoos)  free on 9-11 each year. Well, mine wasn't free because I gave the tattoo artist a tip equal to what he would have charged. I wanted the tattoo so that I would never forget  the men and women of the FDNY (Fire Dept. of the City of New York) who perished in the collapse of the Twin Towers. For that matter, so I would not forget anyone who died that day.

The only connection I have had with anyone associated with 9-11 was with the mother of Mark Bingham, a rugby player from San Francisco, who was one of the ring-leaders that caused their plane to crash in Pennsylvania rather than let it continue to Washington to crash into the capitol building or the White House.

I have met Mark's mother twice, once in London and another time in New York City at rugby tournaments in which I was a player.  I missed seeing her this year in Ireland. Anyway, Mark contacted her after the hijackers had taken over the plane. I never talked to her about the calls, but I hugged her a lot both times I saw her and even had a picture taken with her. Mark is such a hero to us "ruggers" that there is an international tournament held every two years in his honor.

You know, I can't imagine in my worst nightmares the phone calls that were made that day. I have an anthology of obituaries that was compiled by the New York Times on my coffee table. Dozens and dozens of the victims called their loved ones on that fateful day after the planes struck the towers. So, I dare not ever ask Mark's mom about his call because it must have been so terrifying, with a feeling of hopelessness on the part of the person receiving the call, and utterly devastating.

I am glad the woman in the beauty college noticed my tattoo. As I said, I got it to remember the people who died on 9-11.  As for the 343 firefighters who died, I am honored to breathe the same air that they did and live on the same planet as they did before that fateful day. I cannot find the words to adequately describe my admiration and love for all of them.

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