Twelve years ago, many families lost a member in that tragic attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and in Pennsylvania. One man, my uncle, will live forever in so many hearts.
Peter Hashem was a resident of Tewksbury, Massachusetts. He was happily married to Rita Hashem, with two children, Christopher and Patrick, who were—at the time—eleven and nine years old. My uncle was a Senior Software Engineering Manager and was flying out of Logan Airport on Flight 11 on a business trip to Los Angeles. He left his family, friends, and coworkers the loving memories of all the fun, exciting, and happy times they had shared with him.
Every year, in Tewksbury, MA, there is a memorial ceremony in honor of my uncle and Peter Gay, another resident of Tewksbury who, like my uncle, vanished from his family’s lives – though not their hearts – that tragic day. The memorial is held at Tewksbury Public Library. Almost all of Peter Hashem’s family members attend each year. Though most of them do not enjoy attending, such as his children and mother, because it brings back the memory of that horrific Tuesday morning, they still do appear at his memorial service each year to pay respects. They also go to the service to see their beloved relative one more time; even if it is in a plaque form.
|Peter Hashem's plaque|
The founder of this memorial, President Robert Fowler, and his Board of Directors made speeches of how our loved ones are always with us and that they would never leave our hearts. He then begins to explain the history of this memorial. “Our motto—since the beginning—is ‘Never Forget.’” President Fowler told me in an interview. “Freedom is what is keeping America, well, America. And in order to stay free, we must use September eleventh as our motive.”
Afterwards, Laurissa Gay, daughter of Peter Gay, spoke to the audience. “Each year, September eleventh moves further into existence.” She said. “I cannot believe that there were twelve year olds that weren't alive during that tragic day. I just can’t believe it.” She then proceeds to read a few poems. When I looked around, I could tell people were trying not to cry. It was truly a sad moment for everyone.
When the Fire Department and Police Department read off the 93 Massachusetts residents who lost their lives twelve years ago, everyone in the audience lit candles in memory and respect of the fallen. Everyone in the audience sang along with the Tewksbury Memorial High School Marching Band to “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” and for a moment we were all united as one.
|The memorial building|
After the memorial, relatives and friends took the time walk up to the memorial building. There were already two plaques; one of my uncle, Peter Hashem, and one of Peter Gay. Recently, the foundation of this memorial added two new plaques. One plaque is about never forgetting 9/11, and the other is a short biography of the attacks. Around the building, bricks are cemented into the ground. Each has a different name of every victim of the tragedy.
My great aunt, Peter Hashem’s mother, walked up to the plaque of her late son just to see his face and touch it one more time. My uncle is gone from our lives, but he has not left our hearts nor our thoughts. The same goes to Peter Gay and his family who misses him dearly. My uncle has touched many people; family, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers. He—and every other victim—will never be forgotten.
By: Christian Hashem