Sunday, September 10, 2006
Mark L. Charette
9-11, WTC, Ground Zero, The War On Terror -- it's, well, something, that the most horrific day we have ever lived through as a nation can be reduced to little more than buzz words.
As we look back on the events of five years past and ruminate about the mess that has become our world in the wake of a seemingly endless era of fear and hatred, we cannot forget that in a matter of minutes nearly 3,000 people just stopped existing.
One such person was Mark L. Charette, a senior VP in the insurance division of Marsh & McLennan. On the morning of September 11th he was on the 100th floor of the World Trade Center. He normally worked out of Morristown, New Jersey.
Mark was married and had three children. He met his wife, Cheryl Desmarais, at the University of Pennsylvania. He got a business degree on a Navt ROTC scholarship to save his parents the expense of a college education, and he performed a five year stint as an officer on a nuclear submarine.
The one word that has come up often in my research on Mark is "handy." Mark had been renovating a 120-year-old house he bought with his wife in Millburn, N.J. at the time of his death. He was a devoted husband who spent Saturday mornings at McDonald's with his kids while his wife enjoyed some quiet time at home. His clients and colleagues called him straight forward, honorable, kind.
Mark's children are now 13, 11 and 7. As we mourn for Mark, we should mourn for the life that was also taken from his family. We should mourn for his childrens' childhood. I wonder how his family is doing today.
I was "assigned" to compile Mark's biography by the 2996 Project, a blog project that sought to honor the victims of 9-11 by bringing their stories back to the forefront of the fifth anniversary of 9-11.
Though I was born and raised in Brooklyn, I was at school at Boston University on 9-11. I was rushing to my U.S.- Latin American Relations Since 1898 class when I clicked the TV. I'm ashamed to say this, but I wanted to watch MTV that morning but by a fluke I hit CNN and saw the World Trade Center on fire. Minutes later it collapsed and I started screaming. I thought New York was going to be blown up and my family, who lives right across the bay from the WTC, would be gone forever.
I didn't hear from my parents until 7 that night. In the meantime I went to class. I stumbled through the day knowing my family was OK, but completely disconnected forom the fact that the world was coming to an end.
So on the anniversary of 9-11, as I shuffle between CNN's webcast of its original coverage of that day and my job and my life, I'll be thinking about someone I've never met. I'll be thinking of Mark Charette and his family and I'll be hoping that this day just flies by for them so they can go on with their lives.
While the politicization of 9-11 is to be expected -- afterall, the story of our nation's history took a drastic turn on that day -- let's not forget the thousands of stories, lives, that came to an end that day too.