Tribute given by Ron's daughter on 9/11/2017
For the last sixteen years, we have held a luncheon in remembrance of my dad. On September 11th, 2001 we all know tragedy occurred around the United States. It was a life changing moment in so many ways. At the time, I worked in midtown Manhattan. The plan was that if something happened in the city, I was to go to my uncle's apartment and stay put for further instructions. My dad was very clear, if I heard sirens and emergency vehicles, he wanted me to walk the other way and get to safety. He was continuously looking out to see that we would stay safe. When we started traveling on our own overseas, he would print out the State Department reports for the country so we would know what to look out for. Even when it tested his patience, he remained calm. For example, in May 2001, my two friends and I decided we would hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and up in a day. When we got down to the bottom, there was a lightning storm and the three of us were worried about a possible flash flood. Fortunately, we found a campsite which had a pay phone, so, naturally, I called my dad.
"Hey dad, how's it going? So, theoretically, if you were at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and there was a lightning storm, how would you handle it? Hypothetically speaking, of course."
To which I heard a sigh and a great summoning of parental patience.
"Well, I probably would not talk too long in a metal phone booth."
Long story short, we survived but it was a great comfort knowing I could call my dad at anytime.
Then 9/11 happened and that safety net was gone. I had never felt so vulnerable in my life. But, sometimes from tragedy, good also arises. The fire marshals came and made sure someone stayed with us every night until my dad was found. Family surrounded us and our family grew. After the first anniversary, this luncheon began in remembrance of my dad. The act of sitting and eating and telling stories reminded me of a big Sunday dinner with the family. Every year, the luncheon grew in size and it was a remembrance of my dad but it also became a reunion of family, like people we had not seen in awhile and were excited to talk to and catch up. Then the luncheon grew even more in size to include military and members that both my dad and brother served with. Through this luncheon, relationships were formed and connections were made. Connections between the fire department and military formed. The luncheon isn't just a remembrance of my dad, it's a family reunion and family is what helped us grow stronger in a time of vulnerability.
It can be the small or big acts of kindness that had made the difference. Whether it was driving down from New Hampshire or flying in from Kansas or just taking time from your day to be here makes us thankful for your support. In this day and age with so many man made and natural disasters and where people are at their most vulnerable, it is important to come together, like a family, and support each other. My dad was all about making the world a better place.