By Mindy Stinson
From Sept. 2006
Finding the words to write a tribute about a person I have never met is not easy. I’ve decided that I would write this as if I was writing about a loved one and write from my heart.
I remember where I was at and what I was doing on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I was at work, drinking a cup of coffee and reading my email. Someone got a phone call around 9:00 to let us know that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember that we were all talking about how something like that could happen, what happened to the pilot? Was it mechanical? Never did we think terrorism. We turned on the radio to see if we could get any information, and as we did the second plane hit. After that, it was complete chaos. Everyone was getting phone calls, most of them rumors and speculation.
I remember that my boss was at a meeting in New Jersey and when he got back to the office he told us that he watched the second plane hit and it was so awful. We closed early that day; it was obvious that no one was getting any work done. When I got home, I couldn’t stop watching coverage of the attacks. It was so hard to grasp the magnitude of what was happening. I remember crying as they showed people jumping from the towers because it was better than burning to death. The first time I heard an airplane after the attacks I felt sick to my stomach, it was a feeling that I’m sure most people felt. It’s also one that has stayed with me since then, and whenever I see a plane flying low I always get an uneasy feeling. I’m not sure if that will ever go away.
Kevin L. Bowser was a 45-year-old Philadelphia native and an Eagles fan from the time he was 5. He attended Kutztown University where he played football, with his twin brother, Kelvin. Kevin and Kelvin might have been twins, but they rarely used the likeness to their advantage except for when they were kids. They would sometimes pretend they were the other one when in trouble at school. After college Kevin returned to Philadelphia, got married and had 2 children. He commuted every day to New York where he worked for Marsh & McLennan’s technology division, teaching brokers how to use their computer software. Just prior to the attacks, Kevin was able to secure financial backing by his company, for his brother’s community football team in Southwest Philadelphia. Kevin was a strict vegetarian and was well liked by many.
On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I’m sure Kevin was going about his daily routine, getting ready for work, thinking about the things he had to get done that day. Maybe he was dreading going to work or maybe he was looking forward to helping someone learn something new. One thing is for sure, he didn’t know that as he left his house that morning it would be the last time he ever saw his wife or his children. He had no idea that something so evil was about to take place and he was going to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn’t think to kiss his wife passionately and tell her how much he loved her, or play with his kids for just a couple minutes longer and tell them both that Daddy loved them and always would. He went about his day as if it was just an ordinary Tuesday and in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
At 8:46:40 AM, American Airlines Flight 11 was deliberately crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center between the 93rd & the 99th floors. This was the first crash in the attacks of the day. All on board (11 crew, 76 regular passengers, and 5 hijackers) were killed. 1366 people were at or above the floors of impact in the North Tower. According to the Commission Report hundreds were killed instantly by the impact, the rest were trapped and died later. Marsh & McLennan occupied floors 93-100 in the North Tower.
Since I was given the honor to write a tribute on Kevin, I’ve wondered how I would have felt that morning if it were my husband at the World Trade Center and the same events had played out as I described above. My mind and my heart are unable to comprehend the hurt, anger and sheer terror that Kevin’s wife must have felt that morning. I’ve tried to imagine how I would live without Mark, without him by my side every day. I can’t. Kevin did not deserve to die, he was just an ordinary guy, doing what he did every day. I think that’s what makes it so hard to comprehend. He did not die of natural causes; someone took his life from him.
Kevin’s wife and family will forever have a hole in their hearts that cannot be replaced. His wife has become a mother and a father to her children while trying to cope with the loss of her partner, her best friend, her other half. His twin brother has lost a piece of himself that only other twins would truly understand. His children have been denied a lifetime of memories with their father. How do you get past that? I’m not sure you ever do, but you have to move on, you remember the good times and happy memories that nobody, not even evil, ugly terrorist can take from you. Kevin’s family will learn to cope but they will never recover.
Today, the 5th anniversary of September 11th, 2001, I’m asking you to remember not only Kevin, but also the other 2,995 people that were killed in the worst terrorist attack ever to happen on US soil.
Since these awful attacks, almost 500,000 Americans have made the tough choice to make a difference by joining the military. Of those 500,000 more than 2,600 have paid the ultimate price to ensure our safety and freedom that we take for granted every day. So next time you see a Soldier or a Veteran, say thanks; it means the world to them.
For those of you who personally knew someone who was killed in the terrorist attacks, my thoughts and prayers are with you. For those of you that put your life on hold to help in New York after the attacks I say Thank You. For those of you who have put your life on the line in the War on Terrorism, I promise to continue to support you in any way I can and I pray for your safety every day. For those who have paid the ultimate price with your life, I will never forget.
Forever in my heart ~ Mindy Stinson