“I took Damien’s death very hard, he was very close to me.” The words of Kevin Meehan echoed the emotions of thousands of others left bereaved and bereft from the events of what became known simply and eerily as 9/11.
Words that sounded in ninety countries throughout the globe, citizens of which lost their lives in the terrorist attack ten years on next Sunday on New York’s Twin Towers and the two other devastating events of that day of death.
Damien Meehan was born in New York but his parental connections with Donegal Town added significantly to local anguish when word that he had lost his life in the World Trade Centre onslaught came through and the identities of the deceased were made known.
In a T.V. 3 documentary broadcast on Tuesday, ‘The Irish of 9/11’, members of the Meehan family including Damien’s mother, Peg, his wife Joanne, and his brothers, recalled their hopes and fears from September 11th, 2001, and ultimately the dreadful realisation that they had lost a son, a husband and a sibling.
On the morning of the attack, Damien, 33, had been working on the 89th floor of the World Trade Centre as a broker with the financial company, Carr Futures.
The youngest of seven brothers - there were two fireman and one policeman in the family - he had managed to make phone contact to relate how the plane had flown into the building. He reported heavy smoke in the corridors and said he and others were attempting to get out.
His brother, Kevin, working as a member of the NYPD, toiled in the vicinity of the towers until midnight, he recalled, before being told by his superiors to take a break. “I cried all the way home.”
Peg told the documentary that they had contacted all the hospitals to see if there was any word. “But we kind of knew he was lost.”
She didn’t, she said, feel any anger....”just hopeful that we’d get over it.”
The body of her son was found intact. “A lot of people found nothing but we found him and were able to bury him and visit his grave. For that we are grateful.”
For Kevin it was a different story. “I had a tough time in my life.” Made even more so by recurring dreams. And worse. “I felt guilty that we couldn’t do more. I think that stays with you.
“We should have been there for Damien.”
Tuesday’s documentary, one of a series running on all television channels this week reflecting the events of a decade ago, also featured an interview with Ballybofey born Paul McCormack, who, as a policeman, headed the 41st Precinct as they joined in the rescue attempts at the site of the attacks.
“There were police officers buried under the rubble - we could hear them calling for help over the radios,” he recalled.
“As a police officer one of the worst calls you can hear coming over is a colleague calling for help and there is nothing you can do to help him.” See pages 6 and 20.