Timothy Patrick McSweeney--A 2996 Project Memorial
I do not know this man. If his life had worked out the way he planned, I most likely would never have heard of him. He would probably have spent part of the morning taking his younger son Patrick to the First Grade. He'd be spending these last days of summer around the pool in his backyard.
But on the same Tuesday that I stood in a conference room with 45 other people, all of us glued to the television, Timothy Patrick McSweeney--Timbo to his many friends and sprawling family--went into Tower One to assist burn victims.
I realise this is an old refrain, five years later, but I am still in awe that there are men whose hearts are large enough to walk into burning buildings for strangers. And I can't get over the fact that these very special men, this rare commodity of strength melded into kindness, are often lost to us for that very reason. They care enough to go into burning buildings.
I'm writing about Timothy Patrick McSweeney, because he did not come out of that burning building alive. A devout Catholic, Mr. McSweeney took an earlier-than-expected trip home to his Lord that day. His pain was soon over. The heartsore sorrow of Debbie McSweeney, left alone to raise three small children, might be mellowed into less of a keening rage. Five years later means that Dennis has now learned to ride a bike. Margaret has learned her multiplication tables and Patrick, a baby when his father worked the longest overtime, is learning to read. I don't doubt that all these sweet moments have a hollowness without Daddy there.
The human cost of 9/11 will echo through generations. But every time I mourn that cost I will remember Timbo McSweeney. Because the thing that will save humanity is the heart that will risk everything to save the lives of strangers. The cost is great, but the wealth is infinitely greater.
This Tribute Was Made In Conjunction With The 2996 Project