As the fifth anniversary of 9-11 approached, the blogosphere community united to express its sorrow and participate in the nation’s mourning as only the blogosphere could.
At that time over three thousand bloggers joined the online project 2996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9-11 to give each victim of that day an individual tribute in their honor. Starting as just a vision of one person, the project exploded and resulted in the largest online collaborative effort in blogging history. Each blogger was assigned a random victim to write a tribute for and all were published throughout the web in the days leading up to that particular anniversary.
From the home page of 2996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9-11:
The 2,996 Project
The idea is simple, but powerful: have a special tribute for each victim of 9/11, with each tribute being created by a different blogger. We started 2,996 Project to coordinate the creation of the tributes, and that’s what this site is all about. Here you can sign up to make a tribute yourself, on your blog (we’ll randomly assign a victim to you). You can also browse or search through either the victims that have already been assigned or those that have not — and you can get pointers to more information on all of them.
A message from the guy who started it all…
For each of us something different about 9/11 brought the tragedy into focus. For me it was the sympathy and grief that poured in from overseas.
I remember a story on CNN that showed a Volkswagen Plant in Germany, where each employee brought a candle and placed it in the factory’s entryway. I was staggered at the scenes of foreigners openly weeping. The closing visual of thousands of candles burning on the marble floor left me speechless.
The first tears I shed for 9/11 were as I watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace later that evening. That night the Queen had the Royal Guard play the Star Spangled Banner instead of England‘s Anthem — a huge crowd of expatriates and British wept outside the gates. That tribute — a national leader, even if for just a moment, diminishing their own national identity as a show of sympathy — was one of the bravest and most touching political acts I have witnessed. And I remember wondering, if the situation were reversed, if we would have the courage to do the same….
The variety of people who participated in the project 2296: A Tribute to the Victims of 9-11 was amazing. A wide spectrum of people from this great nation, and throughout the world, were represented. Bloggers from a wide variety of countries were asked to be included in the memorialization of the lives of the fallen and participated with their tributes. Everyone from big name bloggers to eighth graders on Myspace.com signed up and I know of at least one class that did a tribute as a class project. It was one idea that completely crossed political and ideological divides and was embraced by people of all walks of life.
I was the 1911th blogger to join the project and wrote about Michael D. D’Auria, one of the many brave New York firefighters that responded to the twin towers call and subsequently lost his life as the towers collapsed.
As I watched the many hours of 9-11 remembrances, stories, documentaries, and reports today I was drawn back to this project that I had participated in many years ago and felt that it would be appropriate to once again commemorate and reverently remember Michael D’Auria and the many others who fell that day.
I encourage you to pause on September 11th and remember the nearly three thousand souls who were killed in the ‘Pearl Harbor’ of the current War on Terror and Islamic Jihadism. Remember them for their lives, for their families, for the fact they died on American soil, and simply because they were fellow human beings who displayed thousands of individual acts of bravery and courage as they sought to help each other.
Below I give you:
2996: My 9-11 Tribute to Michael D. D’Auria
Many years have now passed since the tragic attacks on September 11th, 2001. On that day the dark hand of terror and war reached out and snatched away nearly three thousand of our fellow countrymen in an orgy of fire and wanton destruction. I distinctly remember sitting on the couch as I prepared to leave for work and watching the amazing images flash across the TV screen. In that moment I knew that the course of our nation had taken a dramatic turn and that our lives would be changed forever.
Today I honor Michael D. D’Auria, age 25.
Michael came from a strong and proud Sicilian family with a deep history of firefighters. He was known to his family and friends as “a sweet and kindhearted man,” “unusually reflective and sensitive,” “very understanding and a true and wonderful person and friend,” and “as a great guy, always funny, always smiling.” He sought to follow the family tradition of serving others and became a firefighter. He had only been a firefighter for about nine weeks when the fateful call went out to Engine 40 – Ladder 35, and sent Michael responding to only his second fire as a fireman.
Michael was also known for his culinary skills. He graduated from the New York Restaurant School, Manhattan, in 1994, and worked in various Brooklyn and Manhattan restaurants before coming to Staten Island in 1999 to work at La Fontana, Oakwood, and Giovanni’s Cafe, Eltingville. His relatives in the department jokingly advised him not to tell anyone he was a chef. But he enjoyed it very much and was so proud of his skill that he would often stay and cook for the next shift at the firehouse. One firefighter said, “When we saw Mike’s name on the board we knew we were going to eat good that night.”
No tribute or memories can compare to a mothers. Below are a few words from Michael’s mother, Nancy Marra, published shortly after 9-11 which I have taken the liberty of republishing here.
Michael D’Auria was a very warm and loving young man who had a purpose in life. It was somewhat of a struggle getting there but he knew what his goal was and he succeeded. His entire life he wanted to be a fireman.
He was sworn into the department on May 2, 2001 after receiving 100 percent on both the written and physical tests. He was so proud to be a part of the FDNY.
Mike was a chef at various restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. When he graduated from high school, he went to culinary school since he had been too young at that time to take the fire department test.
Michael loved getting tattoos, but they each had a very special meaning to him, e.g. St. Michael the Archangel on his right shoulder. He felt he was his protector. Mike began painting last year. Something he never tried before, but when he did he had such a talent that people were just amazed seeing his paintings.
Most of all, Michael was a caring, giving person. He literally would give the shirt off his back to someone in need. Michael was a hero to many people over the years, now he’s a HERO to all.
As I sit here and write, I cry because my heart aches but I know you are happy now, Michael. You knew life here was only a small part of a very big picture. Michael made a statement to his sister, Christina, several months before September 11: “I know when I die it’s going to be in a big way and it’s going to change the world.” How right you were my son.
Always and forever in our hearts.
Michael’s only crime was that he was being born in the land of the free and the home of the brave. None of the victims of that day deserved the fate that they received, but they all deserve the honor and tributes that they have received since that day. Their deaths deserve to be remembered always as the ultimate sacrifice for this nation and its people. Their memories serve as the catalyst for this nation to unite in its determination to stand against those who would seek to destroy this nation and all that it stands for.
Today I remember Michael and the sacrifice he made for the rest of us. We join in solidarity with his family and grieve with them as they daily relive his loss and remember his life. Thank you Michael for your dedication to serving your fellow citizens and for giving your life as you sought to help save the lives of others. You may be gone, but you are not forgotten.
-After this tribute was originally published I received a rather moving e-mail from his mother which I don’t believe she would mind me sharing with you.
It was 2am this morning and my daughter Christina came across your site with Michael’s story. I am Michael’s mother Nancy. It’s been almost six years since my son was taken from us and I still need reassurance that people will not forget about Michael and all those innocent people who died that day.
I must say thank you for reminding me that they won’t forget. My way of making sure is to volunteer down at ground zero along with the September 11 families association and the tribute center giving tours. I myself have found how very rewarding it is. I realize a bit more each time I do a tour how tourists from all over the world want to know and how they appreciate hearing from the families themselves.
I have to tell you something which my daughter and I think very ironic. Several months before 9/11 Michael’s friends had decided to open a restaurant. The restaurant was to open in mid-September 2001. Since Michael was helping them he was asked to choose a name. The restaurant was to be called “Sage.” (I blog as “Dave the Sage”).
I have attached an article written in our local newspaper in July of 2002 I thought you might like to read.
Thank you again for honoring my son by telling his story.
– Nancy Cimei