Monday, September 11, 2006

Angel M. Pabon and the 2996 

A few months ago I told you about a memorial project to honor the memory of 2996 souls stolen from us five years ago today, on 9/11. Today, on the anniversary of his death, as my part in this memorial, I honor Angel M. Pabon.

I never met Mr. Pabon. Angel. But I've learned a bit about him in preparing this tribute. Enough to feel his loss. Enough to remember that everyone who died that day had such capacity for goodness and such ability to touch others. Among the many tributes to this Angel I found this one:

When Angel Pabon gave up Marlboro Lights six years ago, his 5-foot-8 frame grew from 185 pounds to 205 pounds. "He had these chubby cheeks that I used to love to grab," said his wife, Yvette. "When he gained that weight, it made me love him just a little bit more."

Mr. Pabon, 53, a manager of international equities at Cantor Fitzgerald, achieved his position through will and talent. A native of Puerto Rico, he loved to defy ethnic stereotypes. More than 30 years ago, an employment agency sent him to interview for a position as a teletype operator at Drexel Burnham Lambert. He got the job, but was intrigued by traders, who were screaming in a nearby office. He asked an Anglo colleague what was going on, Mrs. Pabon said.

"The guy told him not to worry about it because he would never work there," Mrs. Pabon recalled. "My husband was furious. He wanted to say something to him, but he didn't. But within a year, my husband was trading for the company on the Japanese market. That was his response to the guy."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 2, 2001.
America lost something great the day Angel died. But America is filled with greatness, and I would hope that each of us will reach a little higher, and think of Angel's memory when we do. Angel clearly never sought the comfort of complaint, but set about letting his deeds and accomplishments speak for him. We can all do that too.

Too many tributes to read them all. Some so painful even one seems like too many:

On the morning of September 11th, as I watched the terrifying news on TV, I kept saying to myself "Elvin's with Chiqui, he'll be safe. They'll be OK as long as they're together." To me, they were invincible. To me, they will always be invincible. My relationship with the Pabon family started two weeks after I got married, at the wedding of my husband's cousin. I only remember Elvin saying how he was going to work for that man some day. He was so honored when Chiq gave him that chance, and every opportunity after that over the next seven years. There was a special bond between them that Elvin truly cherished. Chiqui became a second father to him, and he respected him and loved him dearly. I will forever be honored to say that Chiqui was my friend, and my children will grow up knowing how special he was to us all. Yvette, Vaness and Angel, you were truly blessed to have been loved by such a man. I know your pain because I live it too--we had the best. You will always be part of my family, and I am always just a call away. When I think of heaven now with all of our loves there, my one and only consolation is knowing that wherever my Elvin is, Chiqui is standing tall next to him. Gabi actually believes they are up in heaven golfing, I have a feeling she's right. Rest in peace, Angel.

Diane Romero (Old Bridge, NJ )
Amazing how much it hurts. Just taking the name of a perfect stranger, knowing only that his life was cut short that day, and then looking deeper, searching for what I can learn about him. It really put a lump in my throat just to read the little details of his life -- that he was an impeccable dresser, his love of golf, the positive effect he had on even passing acquaintances -- and knowing he was there that day, a victim representative of all of us.

His nickname, "Chicky"; how much he helped others in the business he himself struggled so hard to enter -- all of that taken away. It reminds me he was real and he was here and such a valuable presence in our world, not just part of a number, not just a fragment of an anonymous 2996. None of them were anonymous.

They were all so real and alive, and now they are gone. Missed, but not forgotten. Even by those of us who didn't know them.

More tributes to Angel, including comments from people who knew him:
My sympathy goes out to his family and friends, and to all who miss his presence in their lives. May his memory endure. May we never forget.

Please take a few moments if you can to honor the memories of more of the 2996. Just read about them, and remember. (If the link isn't working, here is an alternate link.)



For more, here are some more of the 2996 tributes I've come across on or near my blogroll:

Jameel at the Muqata honors Nancy Morgenstern, whose memory truly has been for a blessing in the form of an ambulance here in Beit Shemesh among other things.

Miri at Yiddishe-Kop 2.0 honors Yuji Goya, who died making sure his employees could get out.

Boker Tov Boulder honors Jeffrey Nussbaum, and remembers his final calls on the cell phone.

Frank J. at IMAO honors Gregory Sikorsky, one of the brave men who went up while everything was coming down.

Ellison honors Lt. Geoffrey Guja, a fireman who didn't have to go, but went anyway.

Meryl Yourish honors Abe Zelmanowitz, who died with his parapalegic friend who couldn't go down the stairs.

Point Five honors Christina Donovan Flannery, who never got to live in the house on Cranberry Lane with her husband.

Seawitch honors Stephen Poulos, who loved the opera.

Smooth Stone honors Welles Remy Crowther, who saved so many others and died a hero.

Oceanguy honors Captain Gerald Deconto, his naval academy classmate known by the name "Fish".

Mark at Knockin on the Golden Door honors John G. Coughlin, one of New York's finest, who left behind a wife and 3 daughters.

Scottage honors Angela Susan Perez, who was taken from her three little kids.

LindaSoG honors John Chipura, who survived the barracks bombing of Beirut as a marine, but not his later heroic service as a firefighter in the Twin Towers.

WestBankMama honors John Pocher, who loved to travel and left behind his wife of seven years.

Raggedy honors Michael Benjamin Packer, who had a PhD from MIT and was only there to give a speech.

I may add more as I read them.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: