The 2996 campaign came to my attention earlier in the summer. It is my distinct honor and privilege to chronicle for you some moments from the life of one of the 2996 whom I had the pleasure of meeting and whose loss reverberated deeply throughout his family, friends and community.
Meet Mark McGinly.
My most distinct memories of Mark are from his graduation day from Bucknell University. He had been a housemate of my then brother-in-law, Drew. Drew's housemates' families were overjoyed for these handsome, intelligent, ebullient young men as they prepared to leave the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and take on whatever challenges life decided to toss their way. The weather was beautiful that graduation day. Clear and sunny and warm. The graduation weekend was full of laughter, relief and anticipation. For the men who lived in the colorful house in the campus neighborhood, it was a day they would not soon forget.
After graduation, Drew and Mark both found themselves in Manhattan. Although the day-to-day of their jobs might not have sounded too enticing, the experience of living in the city that never sleeps certainly sounded very exciting to this Midwestern farm girl. The two remained close friends and kept in contact as they chugged along in their new careers.
Mark and Drew were at their respective offices on September 11, 2001. The two exchanged e-mails that crystal clear September morning. The back-and-forth of their conversation ended abruptly that day and breaking news reports soon illuminated why. Mark, a metals trader on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center, had his life taken that morning in a series of events that would have once seemed incomprehensible.
Now, five years later, there is no doubt that the space Mark filled in this world is as prominant as it once was. His personality and presence as described by his father continues to encourage people to do good and meaningful things.
One of those things is the Mark R. McGinly Scholarship Fund. This initiative has grown by leaps and bounds and helped many college students from Mark's home area to attend college. A golf event capped by a dinner and auction has annually raised thousands of dollars for the fund. Still others contribute via the scholarship website to Mark's fund. Others engage in activities and events, competing in Mark's honor, and donate their sponsorship dollars to Mark's fund as Drew and Bill did in a previous Chicago Triathlon.
Last year, Mark's father chronicled his thoughts in a poignant letter featured on his son's scholarship site.
This year, one of Mark's brothers will see his hard work on the small screen when Brothers appears on HBO. This documentary film effort captures the experiences of 31 men who, like Sean, lost a brother on 9/11.
For many people, 9/11 is something that happened to their country. For others like me, it is something that happened to someone you were acquainted with but meant so much more to people who mean so much to you. And, for another group of Americans, 9/11 marks the day when their world changed because someone they loved did not come home from work like they had every day before that.
It is a testament to those Americans lost on 9/11 that even now, their spirits inspire and encourage those remaining to do better, try harder and to help others do the same.
***It is my sincerest hope that what I have written in this post is accurate. When I learned of the 2996 project, I requested Mark's name in the hopes the post would direct readers to the ongoing efforts in Mark's name. Should someone wish to offer a correction or additional information, please e-mail me.***