It’s Important to Remember

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17 years ago I woke up on a fold-out bed, on the last day of a vacation, and turned the TV on to watch the first tower fall. The couple we were staying with were a cop and a firefighter–they were off that day but went in to work without being asked. With all flights grounded it took us nearly 2 weeks to get home.

That’s one of millions of our stories that end with coming back home. Nearly 3,000 stories didn’t end that way.

Please take the time today to go read about at just 1 of these people–who died in a battle they didn’t know they were going to fight.


Scott Michael Johnson’s remain identified, nearly 17 after 9/11.

The excerpt below is from an NPR article.  You can read the full story there.

“His name was Scott Michael Johnson, and he was 26 years old when a plane flew into the World Trade Center tower he worked in on Sept. 11, 2001.

His remains have now been identified, nearly 17 years later after the attack.

New York City’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner announced the news on Wednesday.”

“In 2001, we made a commitment to the families of victims that we would do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to identify their loved ones,” Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement. “This identification is the result of the tireless dedication of our staff to this ongoing mission.”

The excerpt above is from an NPR article.  You can read the full story there.


I’ve already seen posts on social media, criticizing people for using hashtags like #JeSuisParis, and posting images of France. They’re calling it hollow. Hashtag activism.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

The purpose of terrorism is to inspire terror. And it works. That will always happen when people are thrown into a swarm of violence.

But the goal of terrorism is to drive us apart by making us fearful of our neighbors–to make us scared and distrustful of people who aren’t just like us. And that’s something we can fight.

It’s impossible for me to think about 9/11 without also recalling other images from those terrifying days. An atrium at a Volkswagen plant in Germany, blanketed with tens of thousands of prayer candles… The US National Anthem played at England’s changing of the guard… French citizens making a shrine at the US Embassy. At a time when we were attacked, when we were scared, people who couldn’t offer any other help in that moment were able to say that they were there for us.

If a hashtag does nothing more than offer a scared Parisian the comfort of knowing they have friends, then it’s far from worthless.

An Empire State Building lit up with the French colors, isn’t hollow. It’s a way of saying to a friend, that even though we don’t always agree, even though we sometimes fight, and even though I can’t be there with you tonight, I will stand with you and stare into the darkness.

For as long as it takes.


2015 is Our 10th Year

Project 2,996 was created back in 2006. So, even though we’re not yet 10 years old, this will be the 10th 9/11 where we have encouraged others to remember these people not by rehashing their very public deaths, but by learning about their lives.

I’ll freely admit when the idea came to me that I didn’t expect it to take off the way it did. In fact, until right before 9/11 I actually had the information contained on a single page of my existing blog. Then on 9/11 so many people visited my website–to see the list and follow the links–that I used up all my allotted traffic before I even woke up. I had trouble getting my site back up because every time my webhost tried to bring it back up a flood of incoming traffic immediately took it back down. Thankfully, some of the other participants put up mirrors of the list. That first year, even though my site was down for more than 12 hours, my webhost logged more than 2 million incoming requests.

However, what shocked me was how many people were willing to sign up to learn about–and write about–someone they never met.

This year–as I always do–I invite you to learn about those killed on 9/11.

The full list (on this site)

Our Facebook page

Project 2996 Legacy Group on Pinterest

What Is Project 2996 Doing for the 13th Annivesary?

For the 13th Anniversary, we have a three-pronged approach planned. First and foremost, we have our core desire to make sure that every single victim is remembered via an online tribute that is accessible for the world to read. Secondly, our Group Pinboard at Pinterest continues is its quest to have a “pin” for all of the victims. Lastly, we have a new project, which I’ll tell you about shortly.

The more time passes, the more other things and life crowd out the memory that we have of the victims and their families. This is only natural, but it is a force that is working against us and we need to be aware of. I don’t believe that any of us want to see the victims and their families relegated to some 30 second spot in news outlets everywhere, buried behind some news filler that nobody cares about anyways. We want to make something positive out of that terribly tragic day.

I was talking to my wife about wedding anniversaries and I got to thinking that we (as a society) tend to remember the first ten or twelve anniversaries of events (wedding anniversaries, high school reunions, etc.) but after that then we tend make a celebration less and less frequently, going to increments of five (or farther away). Again this is a natural tendency of people in general.

I was working on putting up some pins for the Project 2996 Group Pinboard and I realized that a lot has been done to preserve the memory of the various victims and to turn the tragic event into something that will help people while keeping the victims memories alive. I also read “Just a Few Sleeps Away”, by Mike Nichols who tells the story of a family of one of the victims and how they dealt with their loss. This got me thinking about legacy and how there is so much out there for so many of the victims. I thought that it would be great to do another group pinboard focusing on what has been done to keep the memory alive of the victims via scholarships, foundations, charities, buildings, parks, streets, schools, anything has been dedicated to the victims and anything that keeps their memory alive. The focus of this group pinboard will be on the legacy of the victims.

Dale and I have learned a few lessons from our involvement in Project 2996 that I wanted to apply to the 13th Anniversary. The biggest is that while we want to see every victim represented by the anniversary, we realize that this not at all achievable, but Project 2996 can use the anniversary to capture peoples’ interest in September Eleventh. I recently scheduled some time to put a lot of pins in the group pinboard and if we can all take some names and a lot a certain amount to time weekly (or daily), we can make great strides towards honoring the victims via our various campaigns. Let us use the days leading up to the anniversary and the entire year to honor the victims via our three-pronged approach.

I can’t speak for you, but I know that I’m fascinated by numbers and I’m sure that I’m not alone on this. The number 13 has a bad reputation. While we all know that given the nature of what happened on September 11th, that we can’t rally change it, but lets put some Legacy into this year’s commemorations. All of the victims have left some kind of Legacy, let us see if we can’t find it and let the world know!  I hope that you’ll all join me in pinning at the all new Project 2996 Legacy Group Pinboard and in promoting it. Let’s have fun with the “Lucky 13” and honor the memory of the victims!.

Darryl Heron

Thank you for the New Tributes

I just updated with a few new tributes, and some fixed links.

Thanks to Darryl for getting a post up yesterday. What with work, moving, and a few memorial ceremonies on the drumline with the pipe band, I just haven’t had much free time in the last few weeks. So thanks, for taking care of that.

If you have written a new tribute, if I have the wrong link, or if for some reason I’m missing your link, be sure to leave a comment and let me know.


The Twelth Anniversary Is Fast Appoaching

We’ve seen a few comments here and there and a few emails asking if Project 2996 is honoring the victims of September 11th this year.  To this the answer is definitely YES!  While I can’t speak for Dale’s activities this past year, my life has taken quite a few twists and turns and I have not had the time that I would like to have put into this very honorable cause.  I don’t wish to bore you with the details of this past year (plus I know that the explanation would be way to long and rambling).  Here are a just a few things from me.

Please keep the tributes coming.  A lot of work goes into keeping track of which victims have profiles and which ones don’t.  Unfortunately, we’re not aware of a simple, quick, and low effort way to keep everything up to date, but we’re working on it. Be creative in the tributes that you do. Let us know if you want to create a tribute but don’t have a blog or website and we’ll see about finding a place for your tribute.

The Project 2996 group pinboard on Pinterest continues.  Think about how amazing it will be to have pictures and tributes to all of the victims in  one location online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We managed to get quite a few pictures up over the past year, but we’re not there yet.  If you’re not able or don’t wish to pin in this group, why not tell others about it.  There are nearly 1,200 followers of the board and 2o+ contributors. It sure would be great to work some Pinterest magic and spread the word throughout your Social Media circles.

Finally, lets start thinking about the anniversary next year.  Lets do something big for the ‘lucky 13’.  Let us know what kind of crazy ideas you have and we’ll start working to make memorable.  Bye for now.



The Pinterest Group Board Continues

I just wanted to give everyone an update on the Project 2996 Printerest Group Board Campaign and that the campaign continues.  I’d also like to thank those of you that participated and encourage you to continue and help us to reach our campaign goal of at least one pin for each victim and our overal organizational goal of at least onea “real” tribute by a “real” person for all of the victims.

Here are some basic statistics:

     Total pins in the Project 2996 Group Board: 349*

     Followers: 526

     Members of the group board: 17 (besides myself)

Pinterest is still relatively new compared to some of the other social sites out there so tools are still being developed that can give us more analytical information, so it is hard to pull a lot more information without a lot of manual effort.  I can say that I noticed that some people have created their own Project 2996 boards or September 11th boards and repinned some of our pins there.  One other thing that I’m aware of is that the 3 presenations that I put together for this campaign have all had more than 4000 views, which is many times more than any of my other presentations on SlideShare!

I’d like to thank the following people who have created pins at the board:

Trish Nonaka, Traci Wilson, Cathy Parsons Schimdt, Lorraine Wronski, Christina-Marie Wright, Diane Sherlock, Mrs. Who

Bärbel Wallon, John Bowden, Dale Roe, Kelly JW

My apologies if any of the names I used are not your preferred name, but these are the names listed in Pinterest.  I also apologize if I left any of the pinner out who created any pins on our board.   I’d also like to single a few other people out for their effort and impressions that they left on me.  John Bowden was the first person (after Dale of course) who participated, and this really motivated me to keep this campaign going.  Bärbel Wallon is a German friend of mine and previously had no ties to Project 2996 and her involvement really touched me.  Cathy Parsons Schimdt asked for names multiple times after pinning people that she did tributes for and she encouraged my to continue the campaign by asking for more names to pin the near future, so thank you Cathy!

Looking at the campaign there are obviously some things that could have been done differently but it is always exciting to see when a campaign goes from an idea to reality and when people come on board and the campaign gets moving.  We can be proud of what we have accomplished so far but why stop here?  We can certianly reach the campaign goal of having at least one pin for each and every September 11th victim and we can certainly do this by the 12th Anniversary.  During the campaign the Facebook group grew from 400 to 462 people, so if every person in the facebook group were to create a pin for the tributes that they have already created, and do 5-10 more pins for victims without active tributes, we could easily reach the campaign goal of a pin for all of the victims.   It would also be great if you would mention Project 2996 and the campaign to your family, friends, and colleagues, and in the various social media circle.  I would love to see the size of the group grow, because this generates traffic and word of mouth buzz that helps campaigns to grow.  When you join Pinterest, please be sure to let us know your Pinterest user name and provide us a link to because there are often multiple people with similar names, so a link would look something like this ( )

I have some other ideas for keeping Project 2996 alive and growing, but I’ll talk about them at another time.  I’d also be interested in hearing your ideas.  I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone that had participated and hope that you’ll all help us to mark the 11th Anniversary by creating pins for all of the victims and let’s not forget that we still have arround 1300 victims in need of tributes.  Thank you.


11 Years After

I waited to write this post until late in the day. I was curious how the eleventh anniversary would be marked across the country. Eleven years after, we have passed two milestones. A little more than a year ago, the primary organizer of the attacks (no I will not mention his name) was killed. Last year this was still fresh and many people asked if we would enter a new chapter in our collective remembrance. The other milestone was the tenth anniversary. We love our round numbers, and as silly as it seems, a decade seems a natural time for our psyches to move on to a less burning form of grief.

As many suspected, today’s ceremonies were more subdued than they have been in past years. Anger has faded. We’ve stopped asking Why? and come to understand that once you look closely, there are no satisfactory answers that can explain why madness does what it does. Politicians have moved on and left families to handle the day themselves. And what is largely left to those who choose to mark September 11 th , is reflection.

Over the last six years I’ve talked to many people about the events of that day, and about how chose to move on. Some were family or friends of those who died, most weren’t. And I’ve noticed a pattern.

September 11 th has been used by politicians to further their own points of view. But the rank and file have generally treated the day as a day to forget the things that make us different. I’ve made sure to keep Project 2,996 free of politics, but was neither the first nor the last to make that decision.

If you look at the anniversary over the last few years, you can see that gradually, 9/11 is becoming a day to focus on the things that we agree on, instead of this things that separate us. It’s become a day to forget about partisanship. There are early attempts at making it a day to do something positive—a day to help others—whether through blood drives or charitable work.

I can’t think of a better thing to do on 9/11.

Quick Update

When I get up tomorrow morning I’ll write a real 11th anniversary post.

Right now, I just wanted to apologize to all of you who are leaving comments or sending me emails with updated or new tribute links.  Work has been crazy these last two weeks and the pipe and drum band is getting ready for a competition this weekend, so even my hobby is keeping me busy.

I will get to updating the list with all of the hard work you’ve put in, but it’s just not going to happen by tomorrow.