The Ahern Family - September 11, 2001

September 11, 2001

Lt. Brian G. Ahearn
City of New York Fire Department
Manhattan Division 7, Battalion 13
Reported Missing
World Trade Center
September 11, 2001
Jeremiah Joseph Ahern
New York State
Department of Taxation and Finance
Reported Missing
World Trade Center
September 11, 2001

May the strength of God pilot us,
May the wisdom of God instruct us,
May the hand of God protect us,
May the word of God direct us -
Be always ours this day and for evermore.
                                - St. Patrick

Brian G. Ahearn
AHEARN — Brian G., of Huntington, heroically in the line of duty on September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. Brian was a Lieutenant with FDNY Engine Company 230. Beloved husband of Debra J. Cherished father of Lauren and Christopher. Loving son of Edward and June Ahearn. Dear brother of Betty. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 12 noon Saturday, October 27, 2001, at St. Hugh of Lincoln RC Church (corner of New York Ave. & East 9th St.), Huntington Station. For further information, please contact A.L. Jacobsen Funeral Home Inc., 1380 New York Ave., Huntington Station. Memorial donations to New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation, 21 Asch Loop, Bronx, NY 10475.
Newsday 24 October 2001

Jeremiah Joseph Ahern
Jeremiah J. Ahern, a Bronx-born son of Irish immigrants, went to work in 1946 after getting out of the Army and never stopped. He put himself through Baruch College while working for the Post Office. After 10 years at the Post Office, he began a second career at the Internal Revenue Service. And when he retired from there at age 55, he went right back to work at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Mr. Ahern was 74 and working as an auditor in the state's sales tax office on the 86th floor of 2 World Trade Center on Sept. 11. "Dad was a very quiet person, not too outgoing, and he was always concerned he'd have nothing to do in retirement," said Geraldine Ahern Scott, his daughter. Mr. Ahern had an equally unhurried approach to romance. He was 42 when he married his wife, Beatrice. They met at a Roman Catholic singles dance he attended with courtship in mind. "He didn't like dancing," said Mrs. Scott.
New York Times 17 December 2001

Remembering What a City Can't Forget
by Dan Barry
Today is not the anniversary. It is just one of the 364 other days of the year on which this city remembers. The memory is in the shaded area on the revised maps of New York; in the name of the E train's last stop in Manhattan; in the skyline. It is in the shorthand language that we share: north tower; Windows on the World; Aon Corp. This language of ours is so immediately understood that numbers speak volumes: 8:46; 110; 343. Next month the city will mark the second anniversary with a ceremony at the site. There will be the requisite silent pauses and the reading aloud of 2,792 names by children, as if in sad echo of all those parents calling for their kids to come home now, time for dinner.

In truth, every day in New York is the anniversary. The people of the city say so, in the subtlest ways. You hear them as you travel the city streets. You visit the Our Lady of Mount Carmel shrine on Staten Island, where tucked into the intricate stonework is a Mass card for a woman named Peggy; "She was in the restaurant on top," is all that the caretaker needs to say. You talk to some Mexican immigrants in the Bronx about their dreams, and out of the blue, one of the men mentions the thing that happened down there. "We'll never get it back again," he says. Even a casual conversation with a man on the East Side, about a subject as whimsical as his talent for whistling, leads to the revelation that his wife escaped from the 65th floor of the south tower just moments before it collapsed. Because you speak this new language, you nod. And the conversation returns to whistling.

You visit Engine Company 226, a one-rig firehouse in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, that took a big hit that day. It lost three of its firefighters and a lieutenant from another company who worked his last shift with them. Also among the 343 firefighters killed—there is that number—were two others who had once spent time at Engine 226. After the shock eased a little, the men of Engine 226 decided to honor their dead. Using their carpentry skills, they reconfigured their small space to make room for four lockers encased in glass: one each for Lt. Robert Wallace and Firefighters David DeRubbio, Brian McAleese, and Stanley Smagala. "We're going to put their helmets and their turnout coats in there, with their names on the lockers," explains Capt. Bill Carew, a childhood friend of yours. "And we're going to have shelves for pictures and flowers and Christmas cards that their families can take out and change." "It's always there," your friend adds. The "it" is understood.

Five days ago, the medical examiner's office announced the positive identification of three more victims: Bryan Bennett, 25, who had just signed up for piano lessons at the New School; Michelle Titolo, 34, who as a child used to dance with her older sister to disco music; and Jeremiah Ahern, 74, who years ago had met the woman he would marry at a dance. Using more of those numbers that are integral to the city's new language, the medical examiner also announced that it had lowered the total of those whose remains have not been identified to 1,271. That is 46 percent of all killed, nearly 23 months after the catastrophe.

The announcement reminds you that the medical examiner's office, on the East Side, may be the one place where that day remains most vivid. Near its back entrance there still looms the massive white tent that shields from everyday view the refrigerated trailers filled with thousands of human remains, and the portable building in which remains are being dried and preserved. This temporary place, called Memorial Park, has changed a lot since its hasty establishment in those first chaotic days. The trailers still hum, and the air still smells faintly of death. But the city has transformed part of the tent into a place for private reflection, with candles, pews, and a softly burbling fountain. Soot from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive constantly seeps in, settling over photographs and stuffed animals. Shiya Ribowsky, a deputy director at the medical examiner's office, takes tissues meant for tears and wipes the dust from an oversized book in which family members have recorded messages to those they have lost. You flip through the entries. Aug. 10: "We miss you desperately." Aug. 9: "Dear son, God bless you." Aug. 6: "You will always be in the hearts of your friends." July 31: "Our lives are forever changed." In this city, every day is the anniversary.

New York Times 13 August 2003

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