Then everything changed, for obvious reasons.
Eight years later I still don't have the words to describe what that day was like, how I felt then, or what it means now.
I do know I am not the same....
On the one year anniversary of that day, the university I then worked at asked employees to plant an American flag on the lawn of the Cathedral of Learning, one for each of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day.
I picked the flag bearing the name (taped upon the wooden dowel shaft) of James Walsh, from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, who died in the destruction of One World Trade Center. In the last 7 years, I've moved three times to two different states, hauling everything I own some 2,500 miles. James Walsh's flag has always gone with me; I see it every day on display in my home even now.
I picked James Walsh to honor today when I found out about Project 2996, which is dedicated to remembering the people who died that day.
Here is the touching tribute previously published in The Star-Ledger, found here.
When Kathleen Walsh Karlen adopted her son Connor from Korea -- a 2-year-old who found the transition from East to West sometimes unbearable -- it was his Uncle Jim who could calm Connor's emotional storms.Really, there is nothing more I can add to what Ms. Peet wrote, except that...I will always make sure, wherever I live, James Walsh's flag will have a place in my home.
No one in the family was surprised. Jim Walsh was the fun uncle, the friend everyone wanted to hang with, the nice guy with the big heart who was never afraid to show it, said another sister, Carol Walsh Murphy.
"I'm sure everyone who was lost at the World Trade Center has somebody who says they are a great guy, but to call Jimmy great sells him short," Murphy said. "He was fun and funny, and at the same time, he taught us all how to be a little more loving."
James Walsh, 37, didn't make one last call to his family from the 104th floor of One World Trade Center, where he worked as a computer programmer for Cantor Fitzgerald, but his family said it didn't matter, "because he said 'I love you' every way possible, every day of the year."
He said it in the way he read books every night to his daughter, Caroline, who turned 2 the day the Twin Towers crashed to earth.
When news came that the Scotch Plains resident was missing, boys he knew in high school in Westfield and people who remembered him from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., called to help.
Sean McDonough, from Montgomery, Pa., recalled him in an e-mail: ". . . His friends in Pennsylvania and around the country have been warmed by his presence and will miss him terribly . . . He loved being a dad and through his relationship with Caroline, he showed me a way to be a better parent with my kids.
"We are left with the void of the thousands of people like Jim Walsh who died last week," McDonough added, "but I will tell everyone who listens about my friend Jim and how much he meant to me and my life."
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Walsh is survived by his wife, Kate; his parents, Frank and Mary Lou of Spring Lake; two brothers, Thomas of Westfield and Peter of Spring Lake; and two sisters, Kathleen Walsh Karlen of Woodbridge, Va., and Carol Walsh Murphy of Tampa, Fla.
Profile by Judy Peet published in THE STAR-LEDGER.
Here is a memorial page set up to remember him. Please visit and leave a kind message.
Later today, I'll be posting a second remembrance about Andrew Alameno, who also died in the World Trade Center.
UPDATE: If you get a chance, please visit Exblogitate for an excellent compilation of Allahpundit's eyewitness remembrances of that terrible day.