I felt helpless and still do to a large extent when it comes to my reaction and the memory of Sept. 11, 2001. However, there is one thing I can do, and that is to pray. The New York Times’ Portraits of Grief is more than just a collection of obits on those killed in the World Trade Center bombings. It is a way to put faces and lives to the tragedy.
Leon Smith Jr.’s boots just might be impossible to fill. He wore the only size 15’s in the Fire Department, said his mother, Irene, and he had to have them specially made, once he had attained his dream of joining the department.
Mr. Smith, 48, was the chauffeur — the driver — for Ladder Company 118 in Brooklyn Heights. “He would wash his rig every single day, and when he went off duty, he’d say, `Listen, my baby better be clean.’ ” Mrs. Smith said. “He called that his girlfriend.”
An only child, Mr. Smith showed his compassionate side when he was just 7 or 8. His mother often took him to the zoo or a play, but just before departure time the doorbell would ring, and a few neighborhood children would be waiting to come along. They never got to go anywhere, he explained.
“He’d say, `Oh, Mama, please let them come,’ ” she said. “I always made sure I had extra money and extra food.”
I choke up any time I go to my bookmarked Portraits of Grief page, which is scheduled to stay on the internet “indefinitely,” and read the stories. Leon Smith Jr.’s story is always the first one on the page, at the top.
I never have gone all the way through the portraits. I read one at a time when I think of it.
Today, I think I’ll read some more.