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Remembering September 11

One decade after the attacks of September 11, 2001, 10 people pay tribute to loved ones lost and share the unique, enduring ways in which they celebrate their lives.

Ann DouglasGareth McConnell

“I Have a Picnic and Toast My Friend’s Life.”

Tyrone Fripp | 43 | New York City
His best friend, Eric Bennett, 29, a vice president at Alliance Consulting Group, died when the plane struck Tower One.

See a photo of Tyrone.

Eric and I met at a consulting firm, where we were both recruiters. He was from Flint, Michigan, and, despite living in New York City, was a country boy at heart. I was born and raised in the Bronx, so I called him Hayseed and teased him about the country music he liked, but we became close. After moving to other jobs, we still hung out all the time. We’d go to the gym or have a beer—he loved beer. We even moved to the same neighborhood, a few blocks away from each other. We were more like brothers than friends.

Right after the attacks, I quit my job. First I dedicated my time to trying to find Eric, and later to planning a memorial service in New York (his family held one in his home state). His aunts and sister came, as did his partner, Rodrigo.

At the service, I spoke about Eric’s ability to bring divergent people together. It was true: If you looked out at the crowd, you saw a rainbow of people—old, young; gay, straight; black, Latino, white. Eric loved everyone.

Every year since 2001, I’ve stayed home from work on 9/11 and observed silence for most of the day. This year I will do the same. Right before sundown, I go to a short pier on the West Side of Manhattan and have a picnic with a beer (Bud Light, Eric’s favorite). I toast to him in the sunset, while facing downtown toward the World Trade Center. I try not to cry. Sometimes I am successful. Often I am not.


How to Give Back

This year, Real Simple staffers will be joining millions of other Americans in commemorating the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001, by participating in the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. Please go to realsimple.com/remembrance or 911dayofservice.org to learn more about how to get involved.

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