As I pondered one more tribute to a human being prematurely lost to the world on September 11, 2001, I scanned the memorial banners in front of the Unitarian Fellowship in Rockledge, Florida, bearing all 2,977 names of murdered victims. I came across three victims of my own namesake, and wondered if I might be related to them in any distant way. It was a sobering moment, seeing my own surname embossed on the victim’s list.
First: Peter Christopher Frank, age 29, worked as a vice president and financial analyst for Fred Alger & Co. On the 93rd floor of Building One, World Trade Center. An athletic fellow standing 6’2″, he had his entire future at his doorstep when the first plane slammed into his floor. He was undoubtedly one of the lucky ones, because the end came instantly without first realizing what was happening.
Peter was engaged to be married to Karen Carlucci, also 29, in Caldwell, N.J. on October 19th, just five weeks later. On that day, Karen called together a small group of friends and family to memorialize the wedding that never was.
Second: Gary J. Frank, 35, was Director of Document control for the Aon Corporation, on the 92nd floor of Tower Two. Besides being a computer programmer, Gary was a bona fide pool shark, winning many trophies around the country shooting billiards, his passion. As a divorced dad, he would spend every other weekend with his daughter, Jessica, age 12.
Been there, done that.
Third: Morton Frank, age 31, was vice president of institutional sales at Cantor Fitzgerald, and worked on the 104th floor of the North Tower, above the floors that were impaled on September 11, 2001. My guess, is he was one of the jumpers. Besides his family and friends, he loved motorcycles and golf, and was a super uncle to three nieces and two nephews. His mom, Phyllis Frank, volunteers as a tour guide at Ground Zero.
Three young men, each of whom did nothing wrong but be born as Americans (probably Jewish)striving toward a fruitful life, loving those who loved him, and thirsting for a future of accomplishments and prosperity. Their lives were deliberately snuffed out at random by those who didn’t even know them…for what?
I didn’t know these men, but I share their surname and the sound of “Mr. Frank” many times over in a lifetime. It’s not likely I was related, but it still trembles my heart to learn of their untimely fate. After all, it could have been you, or me, in the wrong place at the wrong time, in the Pentagon, New York or the fields near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on that fateful day.
I must never forget.
I will never forgive.
Nor will I ever give up vigilance in trying to identify our enemies — violent and non-violent — including their aiders and abetters, and to share that awareness with fellow Americans. I fear 9/11 was not the end, but only the beginning. There are many more fanatics out there who are determined to alter our lives and the lives of our children, by murder, by intimidation and by deceit. Whatever it takes.