Waiting to Remember
the Good Times
At every turn, Diane Kracov Monahan 84 is bombarded
with memories of her husband, John: in the supermarket, at the dry
cleaners and in the face of her 3-year-old son, who has his fathers
hazel green eyes.
John Monahan, 47, an operations supervisor for Cantor Fitzgerald,
was killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center
twin towers. He worked on the 101st floor and called Diane at their
Ocean Township home moments after the first plane struck the North
Tower at 8:49 a.m. The Trade Center is on fire. I love you.
I love the boys. I dont think Im going to make it out,
he told her, hanging up before she could say a wordnot even
goodbye or that she loved him, too.
I dont know if he was trying to get out or he didnt
want me to hear him die, she said. I just hope that
it went really fast. I hope that 15 seconds after he hung up that
he was dead.
Diane watched TV coverage in horror as the building where John worked
was engulfed in thick black smoke. His body was never recovered
and several days later she had to break the news to their sons,
Terrence, 5, and C.J., 3.
Grieving, she was soon surrounded by relatives and friends. On September
12, Diane found her college roommate, Donna Spear Wright 83,
on her doorstep. Another classmate, Sandy Dowds Giorno, also came
to pay condolences, and calls came from Robyn Steinberg Brennan
in Atlanta and Amy Jerman Urmansky in California.
Initially, she was worried about how the family would survive financially
because John was the sole breadwinner. But support has come from
Cantor Fitzgerald and life insurance.
She spends most of her time these days trying to reassure her boys.
They become anxious when she leaves themafraid that she, too,
will not return. She fills their days with activities, trying to
take the place of their father, who took them to the beach, bathed
them at night and played tee-ball and miniature golf with them.
When you have little kids, youve got to just keep going.
Theres no time for self-pity, she said. It doesnt
do you any good anyway.
The boys frequently ask about their father. Sometimes they refer
to the terrorist attack as the big bad fire. And when
they miss their dad, they say that they dont want him
in heaventhey want him to come home. Although her heart
aches for their loss, she holds back her tears for their sake. I
try my best to never cry when they talk about John. No matter what
they say. No matter how sad, she said. I dont
want them to think of their father with sadness. He loved them.
John and Diane met in 1989 at work. It was an instant attraction,
although they were opposites. He was quiet; she is gregarious. He
came from a large, close-knit Irish Catholic family; she is Hispanic
and Jewish. He was a great guy, said Diane, who described
John as her soul mate. They married in 1991; they had planned a
Florida getaway to celebrate their 10th anniversary last October.
I miss John every morning and every night. Theres always
something to remind you that theres someone missing,
said Diane, adding that even seeing broccoli Johns favorite
vegetableat the grocery store brings back memories. Its
just never going to be the same again.
Without John, she is learning to take life one day at a time. I
didnt think I would be alone at this stage in my life,
she said. Im waiting for the time when we think about
it and only think about the good times. So far were not even
Melanie Burney 84
In memory (special section)
Expert on Afghanistan shares insight on Unholy Alliance
(RU Foundation release)
Life After Loss
by Chip Turner
One of the difficulties in discussing how September 11, 2001 has
changed our lives is that you simply run out of superlatives and
synonyms for the words bad and pain. The English language seems
to lack the proper terminology to describe the emotions that surface.
If there was a word that combined sorrow, rage, fear, pride and
apprehension, that might do
On the afternoon of September 11, I managed to
get on one of the trains leaving Manhattan. Shortly after the train
exited the tunnel on the New Jersey side, everyone became silent
as the huge black plumes of smoke came into view, marking where
the World Trade Center had stood just a few hours before. Amid the
gasps and murmurs, an older gentleman several seats in front of
me quietly said, This changes everything.
Hes absolutely correct. A way of thinking
ended that day, before we had to take into account that terrorists
would turn airplanes into missiles and intentionally aim them at
civilians or that lunatics would send biological weapons through
the U.S. mail. We have had to change our way of life, tighten our
security, watch out for suspicious things and take every precaution
to keep this type of thing from ever happening again.
Rowan alums, like everyone, have adapted to a
new normal. The alumni family lost Daphne
Pouletsos 76 and Lance Tumulty
92 in New York on September 11. To say that loss affects
people profoundly again proves the failure of language to express
the depths of human experience.
Surviving the attack on World Trade Tower Two,
Tom Dwyer 83 remembers his escape from the 80th floor.
He had already descended 28 flights of stairs when his building
was hit. My mind started to wander and I became a bit scared.
Was this the end? he recalled thinking. It couldnt
be, I told myself. I hadnt finished the chapter book that
I was reading with my son, Timothy. Stephens fall baseball
season was just beginning and the vacation home that Gail and I
were renovating was only half done.
Dwyer and a co-worker coaxed a frightened and
fatigued former colleague down the last 30 flights to escape the
collapse. Nightmares about the day linger after several months,
but now back at work in a makeshift office, he says the tragedy
has convinced him of the important things in life and he asks the
inevitable questions, Why was I spared? What is Gods
master plan for me? His parish priest asked him to reflect
on the experience at a December mass. I thank God for giving
me the chance to see years of my kids baseball games, graduations
and, hopefully, someday their weddings, and to retire with my wife,
who kept it all together during the whole ordeal.
Indeed, in the wake of September 11 many have
found gratitude for the simplest things and fortitude where they
never knew it existed. Brian
Kass 85, a mail carrier in northern New Jersey, has
faced the complications and fears brought on by the anthrax attacks.
You just have to decide that youre not going to let
this ruin your life, he said. You can either let yourself
become paralyzed by fear or move on with life and be proud of doing
your job as best you can in the face of adversity.
Glenn Tarsi 77, a pilot of Boeing
777s for American Airlines, and his wife, Candie, had just left
on a vacation to celebrate their anniversary when they heard the
news. They immediately returned home. Our phone rang off the
hook for two days straight with people checking to see if we were
okay, he said. We heard from people we hadnt spoken
to in years.
Two of the hijacked planes were American Airlines
Boeing 767s, the same planes that Tarsi had flown for six years.
He could not eat or sleep for three days. Those were my airplanes,
he said. I knew them inside and out, and I knew some of the
crew on board those flights.
Like most of the airlines, American announced
job cuts shortly after the attack. The Tarsis both had long tenures
at American, so their jobs were safe. Still, Candie decided to take
six months off, saving the job of a junior flight attendant.
Flying, however, has not been the same Everyone
is far more security conscious and were watching passengers
very closely to see if anyone is acting unusually, Tarsi said.
Our main focus has always been safety, but now were
equally concerned about whats going on inside the plane as
we are about whats going on outside the plane. The tiniest
incident will come to our attention immediately.
Regardless of the changes, Tarsi loves flying.
Being a pilot is still one of the greatest jobs in the world,
he said. Ive always taken my job very seriously, but
theres a whole new dimension now thats far more serious.
Now youre worried about circumstances that are not completely
in your control as a pilot.
Dealing with a heightened state of security is
now a part of everyday life for Steve Shapiro 93, a
producer for The News With Brian Williams on MSNBC.
Shapiro was at Ground Zero for three days after September 11, helping
to cover events as they unfolded. Now, whether driving through Manhattan
or traveling to a news event, he knows that security measures are
going to be more prevalent.
Despite the threat of further attacks, he doesnt
feel less safe. Theres only so much that can be done,
he said. Theres always going to be a certain amount
of risk, but you deal with it. Whats comforting is knowing
that when I go to cover something, there are security people and
police officers who know whats going on and theyre doing
everything they can.
What has been turned completely upside-down is
the way the news industry operates. Shapiro noted, Overnight,
covering the war on terrorism was the number one storyand
the amount of time, effort and money that has been allocated to
that end is astounding.
News organizations, Shapiro also observed, toned down their use
of disturbing images.
Viewers didnt want to be bombarded
by images of human suffering or watch planes crashing into the Twin
Towers from every possible angle. You can talk about September 11
and the ramifications of that days event without over-dramatizing
or sensationalizing them, he said. The news industry
quickly developed a responsibility to be thoughtful and selective
of the images shown, so they are not unnecessarily offensive or
As adults learned to cope, children also struggled
to make sense of their lives. Child neuro-psychiatrist Frances
Jamerson 72 of the Crownsville Hospital Center just east
of Washington, D.C. has found noticeable changes in kids. Separation
anxiety in children has become far more prevalent, she said.
A whole new set of behaviors has been triggered by that day.
Children are so concerned to be away from their parents that they
dont want to go to school. Its magnified even more if
a parent is traveling to another city or has to travel on an airplane.
Jamerson still treats children the same way but
the intensity of the behavioral disorders makes her take additional
steps. What I do now is take more time to educate parents
and children about their fears, as well as refer them to someone
who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy to work through
their fear, she said.
Kids arent the only ones with increased
anxiety since the anthrax attacks, Jamerson noted. We have
parents bringing lethargic children in with various rashes, fearing
the worst, when in fact the rash is just that: a rash.
Anthrax and the attack on the Pentagon radically
changed the role of the special services in the U.S. and the first
move was the creation of the Homeland Security Department. At the
FBI office in Trenton, Ken Shuey 75 heads the anthrax
mailing investigation as supervisory special agent. For FBI Special
Agent Donald Brasco 89, that meant a switch from a
drug trafficking squad to something unimaginable before the attacks.
He is serving on the bio-terrorism investigation squad and has reported
in Washington, DC on the bio-terrorism investigations. I started
with the FBI before September 11. It was the old FBI.
Crime was pretty much traditional. Terrorism hadnt
come home, he said. Now the FBIs role has changed
and were part of homeland security. We coordinate with local
and state law enforcement agencies and rely on the eyes and ears
of every citizen to fight the war.
In New York City, businesses and the tourism industry
have suffered. Michael Stengel 78, the general manager
of the Marriott Marquis at 46th and Broadway, has adapted to heightened
security. Gone are the days when you could park at the hotel without
the vehicles trunk being searched. Security questions
from associates and guests have been a daily point that we address,
so we listen to their questions and thoughts and try to ease their
concerns, he said. We make sure all of our emergency
procedures are revisited and do frequent drills.
Until November, the New York Marriott Financial
Center Hotel served as a Red Cross Respite Center to aid recovery
workers. Now, it has been reopened to tourists, which has helped
Stengel find work for his employees. Part of what weve
been dealing with has been our obligation to find work for over
1,000 employees who were displaced by September 11, he said.
As New York and Washington, DC are recovering,
so, it seems, are our spirits. And the unparalleled acts of heroism
and kindness altered how New Yorkers behaved. It changed our
sense of values for a while, said attorney Jodi Mintz 95,
who was on the street outside the World Trade Center when the first
plane hit. When something comes that close to ending your
life, the daily grind isnt important. You realize that your
loved ones and human life are whats important. People became
much more lenient with each other for a while. She added,
I wish the change that I saw could be more lasting.
Many people have chosen to give financial support
for the victims families. Tarsi and his wife participated
USA, in which American Airlines and United Airlines employees,
military personnel, policemen and firemen ran the U.S. flag from
Boston to Philadelphia to raise funds for the victims of September
For Bill Beatty 87, a CPA at Goldman
Sachs near the World Trade Center, giving has helped soothe the
memories of that day. The second plane shook our building
as it went by, he said. Afterward, I had a full day
of not knowing what exactly was going on. He was concerned
about his brother-in-law at the Pentagon and his brother who worked
at Salomon Smith Barney, less than two blocks away from Ground Zero.
While his brother and brother-in-law turned up
safe, Beatty has lost his close friend, Todd Beamer. Beamer was
one of the passengers who confronted the hijackers on United Airlines
Flight 93, helping to prevent the plane from striking a presumed
target in Washington, DCTodd and I played on the church softball
team, Beatty said. It will be difficult to get back
on the field without him.
Todds widow, Lisa Beamer, was left with
two young sons and expecting a third child. In her husbands
memory, she founded the Todd M. Beamer Foundation and Beatty, who
is taking a one-year leave of absence from Goldman Sachs, is serving
as treasurer. The position has brought some comfort to Beatty. Focusing
on the foundation has helped me deal with the situation and the
loss of life, he said. If it had happened to my family,
Todd is the kind of guy who would have been involved in something
like this, and it makes me feel better to be involved in such a
The foundation, which provides a wide range of
services to the children who lost parents on Flight 93, has received
amazing support. Goldman Sachs is helping manage the funds and donations
have come from hundreds of sources ranging from a $100,000 corporate
contribution to a gift of $42 from a boy who sold soda at a yard
sale. The spirit of giving that I have encountered through
this foundation has been very therapeutic, said Beatty. The
Foundation has provided an outlet for me to focus some positive
energy. Purpose and promise for those close to the Beamers
have also arrived in the form of Morgan Kay Beamer, who was born
on January 9.
Perhaps this is where language can be sufficient
to express ourselves in the new normal. Weve shown
that our patriotism and love of democracy were only strengthened
by what happened that day, that we were not cowed by terrorism and
that in the face of tragedy, our best qualities can emerge. In pain,
words failed us, but now we know that there is life after loss,
proven in nothing more than courage and hope.
Chip Turner 96, a public relations account supervisor
in New York, lives in Bloomfield.