Today, on the 5th anniversary of the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, 2,996 bloggers are remembering the victims who died that day. Instead of focusing on the perpetrators we are remembering the individuals who lost their lives that day. The list of those being remembered with links to the blogs writing about them can be found here. Please take time to read as many of these tributes as you can.
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Writing this post has been very difficult. Oh, the information is there, but there is the sense that you can hardly do justice honoring someone you never met. Still, learning from the words that others have written, I do hope that I can give you some idea about who Neil Dollard was.
Reading through dozens of memorial sites, news sources and other online tributes written in the past five years several items stand out.
First the facts. Neil Dollard was 28 years old on September 11th, 2001. He was a bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, working in WTC 1, and lived in Hoboken, NJ. But those are just facts.
One thing that struck me immediately was the importance that family and friends had in Neil Dollard’s life. His frequent phone calls to those he cared about is something mentioned in nearly every tribute. Calls to his parents, his other family, his girlfriend Kristen, his co-workers, and his friends were every day occurrences. Often for no reason other than to just say hello.
It is also said that he loved to give gifts and seldom went anywhere empty handed.
He loved good food, loved to cook, loved to eat at great restaurants. And he spent time in the gym.
He took pride in the nice suits that are the uniform of an up and coming bond broker, but his trademark was his baseball cap.
He loved Kristin and Kristin loved him. Here is what she had to say two years following his death:
I lost Neil on that horrible day, he was my boyfriend. We lived together and planned to one day get married. He was my best friend and no one can ever replace him. He was genuine and generous. His heart was bigger than life itself. I miss him SO MUCH! Everyday I sit and think what our children would have looked like and what their names would have been and would I ever learn to cook as good as he did. I have to go on with my life but it’s difficult, when the one thing that you lived for is gone. I’m very angry that he was taken away from me for no reason, I never said goodbye!! They say that when you die, your soul and energy are still around, I hope that he can feel how strong my love for him is. I know he is around when I get upset, because as soon as I think about him I stop crying, as if he is rubbing my back and telling me to calm down. I love you Neil!!!!!! I’ll never forget you and the great life that we had together. Kristin
One of the most complete looks at Mr. Dollard’s life is this one:
Staten Island Advance (9/25/2001)
Jill Gardiner Advance staff writer
Neil Dollard was preparing to make a sautéed spinach dish and a homemade tomato sauce the night before the World Trade Center attack.
“He called my aunt and told her to save the tomatoes,” said Megan Fajardo, Neil’s sister. “He was planning on picking them up on Saturday.”
A bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, the firm that occupied some of the highest floors in the building and lost hundreds of its employees, Mr. Dollard was working on the 104th floor of Tower 1 when the first plane hit.
His girl friend, Kristin Ledzion, spoke to him briefly when she called to wake him up before work that morning and he had talked to his family, most of whom were vacationing in Italy, the night before.
He and Ms. Ledzion were scheduled to join them at their home on the Italian Riviera the following week.
“He called on Monday night,” said Mrs. Fajardo. “He was in a good mood. Everyone spoke to him. We were talking about the trip and about how excited he was to come.”
At 28, Mr. Dollard was full of life.
He had a passion for dining in fine Manhattan restaurants and entertaining friends at his home. He was a gourmet cook who liked to try new recipes, and was beginning an impressive wine collection.
To balance his love for food, the 6-foot-1-inch Mr. Dollard spent much of his leisure time exercising at a gym near his home. His build was broad and he always looked healthy.
Though he hadn’t told anyone, he seemed to be preparing to surprise his girl friend with a kitten. His family found cat food and a book on raising cats in his home.
“He was a very loving son who was very involved in the lives of his family,” said his mother. “He was a fun-loving young man who also had a serious side.” Mr. Dollard survived the 1993 Trade Center bombing, when he walked down all 104 flights, helping a woman who was wearing a cast on her leg.
Though his family didn’t speak to him after he arrived at work that fateful Tuesday morning, one of his co-workers called home and said he was in the stairwell evacuating the building with Mr. Dollard. There was no other information on his whereabouts.
In addition to his sister, Megan, and his mother, Helen, Mr. Dollard is survived by his father, Robert; a brother, Peter; two more sisters, Susan Dollard and Anne Zucchi; a half-brother, Michael Dollard, and two half-sisters, Diana and Mary Dollard.
Neil Dollard was taken from his family, friends and co-workers much to soon. He is missed and deserves to be remembered by us all.
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Note 9/11/2011 – The comments have been reopened.