In the days following September 11, 2001, I was one of the millions of Americans who pledged to Never Forget.
In a sense I did keep my promise. I didn’t forget the attacks, or how they affected me. And I have tried not to let their effects lead me into lingering anger or hatred.
But in a larger sense I didn’t keep my promise. Though I didn’t forget the victims, I also never took the time to know them.
2,996 is, in a sense, my self imposed penance, my Mea Culpa. And while my name may be the first on the list, I am only one of over 3,400 people who have taken this day to remember those among us who gave our lives for doing what we all do every day…
Candace Lee Williams was one of them.
Candace Lee Williams
March 5, 1981 – September 11, 2001
Learning about someone from hundreds of miles away and 1,800 days removed is a little bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle without having the picture as a guide.
Here are just some of the pieces:
Candace was a student. A graduate of Immaculate High School of Danbury Connecticut in 1999, and attending Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She made the Dean’s List once, and was a member of the National Honor’s Society.
Candace was a Daughter, Sister, Granddaughter and Niece.
Candace was active. In high school she was a cheerleader, served on the student council, volunteered for the Special Olympics, played basketball and ran cross country.
Candace worked in the WTC. Though she was on Flight 11 when she died. The plane she was in crashed into the building where she worked as an intern. She impressed her co-workers at Merrill Lynch so much that on her last day they sent her away in a limousine. The next semester Merrill Lynch asked the University for “five more Candaces.”
Candace was a dreamer. On 9/11 she was on the way to California, to meet her roommate for a short vacation. On that trip she wanted, more than anything else, to have her picture taken with the Hollywood sign
Maybe more than anything Candace was a helper. As a child she helped out at her grandparent’s construction company and not just in the office. She ran the machines, she poured concrete and she even put in septic systems.
At Northeastern University she developed a reputation as someone who would help others. Classmates appeared on her doorstep before exams, knowing she’d help—she even helped convince one friend not to drop out of school.
Airline records say that on Flight 11, Candace was seated next to Mildred Naiman, an 80-year-old grandmother. Candace’s mother says she’s sure her daughter died holding Mildred’s hand, comforting her.
I won’t insult your memory, your friends or your family by claiming that I know you. But from what they’ve all said about you, I feel I can say that you’re someone I would have liked to know. Five years later, the imprint you have left in other’s lives continues.
They will never forget you.
And five years later I make you this promise…
…I will never forget you.
Dale Challener Roe
Visit 2,996 to read over 3,400 other personal tributes to those lost on 9/11.
I’d like to thank The Wandering Author for his help in researching Candace. He stepped in when I was swamped with mountains of 2,996 problems, concerns, adjustments…and a temperamental computer.