Paul Robert Eckna, like 2,995 other fellow human beings, was somebody that most of us would most likely have never known. Just another guy making a living, enjoying life, paying his taxes, having fun with his friends and all of the other things that make up a life.
But on September 11th, 2001, Paul’s life, like the lives of those 2,995 others, became tied to ours.
You see, Paul worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center.
Like so many others, he’d gotten up on what looked to be just another Tuesday morning and gone off to work. Paul loved his job as an Equities Trader with C.F., and judging by the accounts I’ve been able to find on the web about him, he was a positive, happy, hardworking big hunk of a guy, well-loved by his family and friends.
He hadn’t got around to raising a family of his own yet but, at 28, the sky’s the limit and it’s not like your biological clock has run out on you, not by a long shot. Paul had his whole life ahead of him.
Except he didn’t.
Far away, evil men had been scheming to end his life. Evil men fueled by irrational, fanatical hatred, animals who knew as little about Paul, his two older brothers and his parents, Stanley and Carol, as I did. Foul creatures from Hell that Paul had never harmed in any fashion had decided that Paul and thousands of others like him had to die to avenge some ancient grievance that they had nothing to do with.
And, as a result of that, a Tuesday morning like any other became a Tuesday morning that we shall never forget, a Tuesday morning that shall forever live in infamy.
To Paul, it became the last Tuesday morning of his young life.
That morning, his life and the lives of 2,995 other innocent human beings were snuffed out. Brutally ended for no good reason at all. Paul would never know why he and his friends and co-workers had been singled out for murder, all he knew was that this was the end, that he’d never see his loved ones again and that whatever hopes and dreams he’d had for the future were about to die with him.
We couldn’t save Paul and the others, but what we can do, what we must do, is remember them. We must never forget what happened on that horrible morning, we must never forget the loss of all of those lives, and we must never forgive the ones responsible and those who aided and supported them.
We can’t go back and prevent that day from happening, it’s in the past and there’s nothing we can do to alter it, but if we ever forget, if we ever lay down the torch and pretend it didn’t happen, if we ever relent in our pursuit of the Evil that caused it, if we ever go back to business as usual, we’ll make sure that it’ll happen again.
If we forgive our enemy rather than destroy him utterly, we will make sure that he strikes again, we will make sure that other Pauls die as well.
And we will never be able to forgive ourselves.
R.I.P., Paul Robert Eckna
We Will Never Forget