When we were in New York City we visited the Twin Towers site and I took photographs of the names of those who had died on 9/11 which are engraved on the steel bands that surround the reflecting pools in the memorial park. Since today is the anniversary of that fateful day I thought I would do some research and attach stories to three of those nearly 3000 names.
Michael John Otten was a 42-year-old third-generation firefighter from Manhattan. He could always be counted on to lend a helping hand to those in his neighborhood who needed assistance. His sons Christopher and Jonathan who are now both firefighters themselves, remember him as a man who was calm and always had an ear-to-ear grin.
He was just a “big kid” his wife Marion says. He loved nothing more than to spend hours on end playing football or baseball with his own kids. His sons say he taught them to be polite and respectful of others. Although Marion says she worries about her sons’ safety as firefighters she didn’t try to stop them from following in their father’s footsteps because she remembers how much her husband Micahel loved his job and woke up every day happy to go to work.
Rhonda Sue Rasmussen was a 44-year-old civilian employee of the United States Army. She and her husband Floyd had four children. She died when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the tower very close to her office. Floyd was working in an office two floors below and managed to evacuate the building unharmed. He describes Rhonda as a woman with “a big heart, big smile, willing to listen, laugh at you, put you at ease.
Rhonda and Floyd’s work had taken their family to several overseas postings including three terms in Germany which Rhonda had particularly enjoyed. Rhonda had a master’s degree in business administration and loved to read aloud to her husband when they went on car trips. Rhonda and Floyd were devout Mormons.
Amy R. King was a 29-year-old flight attendant on the plane that was flown into the South Tower. She was an avid runner, the youngest of three sisters, and a devoted aunt to her nieces and nephews. She was dating Michael Tarrou a fellow flight attendant who died with her. Michael had recently asked his mother for his grandmother’s engagement ring to give to Amy.
The 19th annual Amy’s Run will happen again this year. The 5K event was organized by Amy’s high school track coach and all proceeds go to summer camp scholarships for kids. Her home community in Jamestown, New York has also built a playground called Amy’s Playce. It’s spelled with a ‘y’ because it is a place for kids to play.
Sometimes when a major tragedy happens we tend to view it in a more general, historical kind of way. Visiting the 9/11 Memorial site in New York and seeing all of those individual names, and then researching a few of the ones I’d photographed, made me very aware of what a personal tragedy it was as well for so many people and families.