Monday, September 7, 2009

The 2,996 Project; Remembering Esmerlin Antonio Salcedo

With the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th upon us many Americans will reflect upon the horrors of that dreadful day in our Nation's history eight years ago... They'll likely remember details of the day, every aspect of that day, for the rest of their lives. What they were doing when the terrorists struck, how they were feeling upon hearing the news, and the details... Oh so many details...

Speaking for myself I remember absolutely everything... Where I was going (I was on I-395 North headed toward Washington DC approximately 1 mile from the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Navy wing of the Pentagon quite literally rocking my 1999 Jeep Cherokee), what I was doing (talking on the phone with my now wife about what was happening in New York and then, what happened at the Pentagon), the radio station I was listening to (DC101's "Elliot in the Morning"), and even the weather, (the day would hold perfect weather in the DC area- 71 degrees and not a cloud in the sky).

Prior to that day I'd often heard of events in our Nation's history which so profoundly affected the Nation as a whole... Events such as Iran Contra, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and the assassination of JFK. In fact, I recall my father recounting to me the day's events in similar detail upon hearing the news of John F Kennedy's assassination and I'd often marveled at just how vivid and specific those memories seemed to be. Sadly, events such as these seem even clearer in tragedy than do the finest moments of our lives...

But what happens after the tragedy? What do we remember in the days, months, and years following such terrible events? In the case of September 11th we remember President George W Bush's, "Let's Roll" speech at Ground Zero. We remember the start of the bombing campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan. We remember the "Shock and Awe" campaign in Baghdad. We remember our Nation's attempts to bring those to justice who would perpetrate such vile and despicable acts against us. Against our country. Against the United States of America. But what of those we lost on that tragic day? What do we remember of the 2,996 innocent people who perished at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the wreckage in Shanksville, PA?

It's been some time since I've posted anything in "Hard Right Hook!" and, despite a few requests from my readership to not give it up, I'd grown tired of pontificating about the liberal left, the conservative right, and the hypocritical and self righteous politicians playing toward the center who claim to represent them both. But when a close friend brought this project to my attention I felt compelled, more obligated, to serve in preserving the memory of the men, women, and children who so needlessly lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.

The project is simple, brilliant, and worth every second of my time for writing it, and your time for reading it. The 'Project 2,996' quite simply requests a person with a website or blog sign up to be assigned at random the name of an individual who lost their life in the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Once you've received the name of the individual you're assigned the project is simpler still. Find out about that person... Who they are, who they left behind, their family, friends, achievements... How will we remember them? How should we remember them? How do we ensure they're never forgotten?  And then write about that person and link it back to the 'Project 2,996' website. Simple as that...

Upon receiving my email confirmation from 'Project 2,996' that I'd been selected to write about one of America's fallen, I felt both humbled and honored. I wasted no time scrolling through the list, line by line, to find the name and begin my research. The name given to me is Esmerlin Antonio Salcedo. An unusual and intriguing name I thought... Was he a passenger?  An office worker?  A fireman? I was eager to learn about this man and begin my research. So I copied the name from the list and went straight to Google. It took all of about .6 seconds to provide a list of 6 different write ups on this man and as I started reading I felt a great sense of pride, and of loss...

Esmerlin Antonio Salcedo was a 36 year old man living in New York, NY. He worked full time as a Security Guard at the World Trade Center and studied Computer Sciences part time. He was three weeks from graduation.

On Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, Esmerlin wasn't even at work... In fact, he was attending his Computer Science class well away from the dangers of what was to come. Upon hearing the news of the towers being struck, instinctively and unselfishly, Esmerlin charged out of his class to rush toward the World Trade Center buildings and do what he was trained to do.

By all accounts upon Esmerlin's arrival both buildings were already engulfed in flames and chaos was seemingly everywhere. He charged into the buildings to do all he could in evacuating the fleeing office goers, patrons, and guests of the World Trade Center complex... In two accounts I've read, it was said that Esmerlin's last act was to evacuate a fellow security guard before returning to a post in an underground command station. Moments later the North tower collapsed and within minutes, the South tower followed. Esmerlin Antonio Salcedo was never seen again... He's survived by his wife, Matilde Salcedo, and their three children, Kayla, Marcos and Amber.

In the days, weeks, and months following the September 11th attacks, there was much to do with regard to clearing the wreckage - both from the ground, and from our hearts. Stories of heroism, bravery, and sacrifice began to surface providing some solace to a deeply wounded America. Esmerlin Antonio Salcedo was one of those heroes Americans could be so very proud of.  However, because Salcedo wasn't technically on duty, and despite his courage and sacrifice, as well as the sacrifices to his family, the Security group who employed him wouldn't compensate the family at the same level to those who lost their lives who were on duty. 8 years later, the struggle to level this compensation continues...

Never Forget

--Hard Right Hook

I've made no effort to contact the Salcedo family and am taking information and data from whatever I can find on the web. I'm unable to verify these events and this information as fact.


AS said...

Hi, This is Amber Salcedo, Esmerlin A. Salcedo's daughter. This is quite surprising. I was in a computer application class,I started to look up information on blogs and I put my father's name. This blog entry popped up first. I decided to read this intriguing information. All that has been said is true and there is even more. may he rest in peace. Thank you so much for writing kindly about him. He was and always will be a true hero. This was quite a long time ago, you may not even read my comment but once again thank you,I appreciate it.

Shane Yerkes said...

Hi Amber,
Thanks so much for your thoughtful note - and yes, your father is a hero to us all. I'm in New York now for the weekend (from Charleston, SC where my family and I live). I visit NYC for work frequently, and each time I do I visit the memorial at WTC and find your Father's name. Every time. I'm sorry for your loss, but grateful for your sacrifice. And I certainly wish you and your family all the best, always.

Happy Holidays,