Monday, September 11, 2006

I can't find the words for this day...

Some weeks ago, I signed onto a project called the 2996 Tribute. It’s a wonderful idea; volunteer blogmasters would be given basic information about one of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11 attack, and we would write a tribute to that person. It’s a righteous and decent thing to do, and a fine expression of remembrance for those innocents murdered in the name of Islamic fanaticism. I hastened over to the project’s website, and made my pledge. I was assigned the name of a Naval officer killed at the Pentagon on 11 September 2001.

I’m a fair hand at self-expression when I think I have something to say. I can knock out a 1500-word column in about an hour and a half, with editing and revisions. I would do a little research, and then compose something hopefully eloquent and meaningful to remind people of the reality of the life and death of Lt. Commander P. J. Murphy.

Then, as I began my rudimentary research, I realized that this is one of the hardest things I have ever tried to write.

I did not know Lieutenant Commander Patrick Jude Murphy. The Navy lists his biographical information as follows:

Patrick Jude Murphy

Home of Record: Flossmoor, Illinois
Commissioned: Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, University of Mississippi, May 21, 1986
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Date of Rank: July 1, 1996
Designator: Submarine Officer
Age: 38

Duty Stations: [These are submarines, for those unfamiliar with the designations.]
USS Sand Lance (SSN 660) 10/87 - 11/90
USS Daniel Webster (SSN 626) 11/90 - 09/91 Separated from active duty 09/91

Awards and Decorations: Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal

As I started to do more in-depth research to personalize this tribute, I suddenly froze, and couldn’t continue. A wave of emotions washed over me, creating a classic case of writer’s block. The rage at the atrocity, alternating with the tears, was as fresh and raw as they were five years ago. I never learned if Commander Murphy had a wife and children, but I assume he did. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that I care too much. The totality of the horror of 9/11 was too much to explore. Like Commander Murphy, I also didn’t know these people:

U.S. Army List of Casualties:


Blogger camojack said...

Excellent, brother.

September 11, 2006 2:59 AM  
Blogger Cassandra said...

Thank you. You're right - it shouldn't be forgotten.

In our basement there is a photograph of that huge, smoking hole.


September 11, 2006 3:55 AM  
Blogger onlineanalyst said...

That list puts a name to the victims. They are America. Hailing from many states in our great republic, they represent years of service to our nation. Cut down in their prime of life by a vicious ideology, they constitute a loss that we can NEVER FORGET.

September 11, 2006 7:16 AM  
Blogger boberin said...

Very well done possum, thank you

September 11, 2006 7:17 AM  
Blogger jeff simon said...

If it helps you on this day, I knew Pat Murphy. He wasn't a friend in the usual sense of the word, more of a work friend.

He was indeed married, to a girl of SE Asian descent, although I never met her and can't remember her name.

Murph was a reserve officer, and what some would call a brilliant mathematician. What he did for the Pentagon was not something he was allowed to talk about. When he wasn't serving his country, he worked for Alberto-Culver in Melrose Park, Il. I am a contract programmer for them, and met him in the course of my job. Murph was using his abilities to organize and improve the efficiency of the production environment, although he was clearly working well below his abilities.

What I noticed immediately about Pat Murphy was that he was a natural leader of men. He was liked by everyone he worked with, and inspired those around him to do things a little bit better. He always had a smile on his face, and was an optimist who would love to talk about his plans for the future. He loved the Navy, as far as I could tell, and was proud of what he did for his country, although it frustrated him that he couldn't discuss it. He lived for mathematics and could talk endlessly about the subject. That's when you realized the size of his intellect.

Pat would disappear for his stints at the Pentagon without notice, but we were always glad to see him when he returned. I'm sorry I never got a chance to say goodbye, and his being gone left an empty hole in a lot of people's lives. He was that kind of guy, and I still catch myself looking for him when I visit the plant. He is missed.

Hope this helps. If you have any follow up questions, and it's within my ability to help, I'd be glad to. Unfortunately, I never became a personal friend, so I don't know a lot about his family life. Just know that he was a really good guy.


September 11, 2006 9:35 AM  
Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Good job Possum. And thanks to Jeff for the additional info!


September 11, 2006 12:15 PM  
Blogger Barb said...

Five years ago,on that horrible day,I was shocked and horrified ,as nearly all of us were,but I didn't start to really feel the pain of it until later ,when they started naming real people with real families. Every year on the anniversery of that day,it seems I feel even more pain than I did at that time. All those lives that didn't get lived out,all those babies who weren't born ,all the wonderful things that would have been done by these heroes,the hundreds of family members who still grieve,and miss their loved ones,and it won't ever end.Even if all the guilty are punished ,that terrible loss is still there.
You did good ,Possum,you made me see them as individuals again. And though that hurts worse,it is the very least we can do for these precious people.

Thank you.

September 11, 2006 3:04 PM  
Blogger Beerme said...


I agree the writing assignment was as difficult as any I've ever had. The idea was to make the victims of this attack-all targets-the focal point of the tribute. As Barb said above, to make them seem as individuals again.

Thank you!

September 11, 2006 6:10 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Sizemore said...

Thank you for honoring LCDR Murphy and taking the time to list all of the fallen at the Pentagon. I will indeed remember all of them in my heart.

September 11, 2006 10:22 PM  
Blogger MargeinMI said...

Thanks possum, for your participation in this project. Putting an individual face on each victim helps me to more fully realize the scope of that day. Thanks also to Jeff for his addition.

I agree that the victims at the Pentegon haven't gotton the same depth of coverage. I don't know why either. If possible, their families and co-workers may hurt even more because they were in the business of protecting our country. I found Rumsfeld and Cheney's tributes there yesterday especially moving.

Also, the reading of the names at Ground Zero. It just went on and on and on and on. Your list also. Thanks for posting it.

God bless America.

September 12, 2006 6:51 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...


Your great heart is why you are so
loved and respected by your readers.

Great job remembering great people.

September 13, 2006 5:16 PM  

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