Sunday, September 10, 2006

This is a photo of Douglas A. Gowell. Doug was one of our treasured neighbors. He died on United Air Flight 175 when terrorists crashed it into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Doug was a great husband and father. One day I was up at their yard while our daughter and their son were playing together when Doug arrived home from work. Doug asked his son Michael how his day had gone with his Mom and Michael said he'd had a wonderful day - Doug then commented on what a wonderful mother Barbara was since Michael felt he'd had a good day at home with his mother. That was the kind of husband and father Doug was.

On September 10, 2001 I took our dog out for a walk and I saw Doug working in the front of his home up the street. He was always busy about something and as his wife Barbara has commented his glass was always half full so his was a life with and undending thirst to fill that glass to the top!

Early on the morning of September 11th I went out front to water flowers and as I walked down the driveway I saw Doug pass by in a limo headed to the airport. How little did I know it would be the last time I would see him.

Later that morning I went off to the genealogical society for a meeting. A member of the committee arrived saying that a plane had hit the North Tower to which I responded that it must be some foolish pilot who did not know what he was doing. Then another member arrived saying our country was under attack. We quickly moved through our meeting and headed home. I arrived home to see a replay of Flight 175 hit the South Tower. Little did I know that Doug was on that flight.

That whole day Barbara Gowell waited for her husband's phone call. He had told her he would call her from California that evening. For weeks she lit a large candle that sat on the front porch of their home as if to be lighting the way for Doug to come home. It was sad and heart wrenching. When I last spoke with Barbara, she was still having nightmares about it all. Since then, she created a Memorial Garden on their property in memory of Doug. It is pretty terrible to not see a loved one for the last time even if it is in a casket after one dies. No remains or any of Doug's belongings have ever been found.

A Memorial Service was held in a local church for Doug on September 18th. The church was packed as well it should have been as a tribute to a great man and hero to us all.

I have to say that people responded quite graciously. Barbara called a workman to finish what Doug had been working on in front of their home and he refused to be paid for his work. A neighbor paid to have the driveway plowed over the winter months when it snowed. So many tried to help.

Doug would have been 53 just a few weeks after his death. He had beaten cancer just two years earlier.

So as the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches the Gowell family is ever in our hearts and in our prayers.

Since 9/11 some of the neighbors on our street fly the American flag and have lit candles in front of their homes. On this anniversary I hope all of you will also do something special to honor and remember all of the martyrs who died on 9/11. Those who die for freedom die for all of us no matter our country of origin.

Those victims at the WTC died just because they happened to be Americans or visitors from other countries conducting business. In spite of all that came to pass, we are a resilient people and America remains the land of the brave and of the free!

On September 11th, 2001 the number of people who died that day at the New York World Trade Center totalled 3,025. It was a day we will never forget.

It was a day when ordinary people became martyrs and heroes. God bless America!

No comments: