The 2996 Project is an effort by D. Challener Roe to help remember the 2,996 victims of 9/11 by having individual bloggers pay tribute to each victim. As a volunteer I was randomly assigned the memory of Gregory Milanowycz, lost in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. This post will remain on top through Monday night.
Gregory Milanowycz, 25, grandson of the late Joseph Milanowycz '49, was an insurance broker for Aon. As the disaster unfolded, he called his mother and later made contact with his father by cell phone. By that time he and about 30 co-workers lay trapped in the northeast corner of the burning building's 93rd floor.The New York Times ran a tribute to Greg in the 2001. Other tributes are located here and here. He was a 1998 graduate of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and worked for the Aon Corporation as a broker.
His father had called the fire department and was relaying to him the dispatcher's instructions: Lie on the floor, wedge damp cloths under the doorways, refrain from talking to save oxygen. As the son repeated these orders to those around him, he started coughing a lot and asked if he should break a window to let out the smoke and heat.
Then came his final words: "Dad, I just want to let you know I love you and tell Mom I love her and tell Steve I love him." Steve was his twin brother. . . .
In researching Greg I realized we had one thing in common, perhap trivial, but a connection nonetheless:
..He was the household handyman, fixing plumbing and electric appliances, but his true love was golfing. "Whenever he had time, he would go to the golf courses and team up with whoever was there to play," Joseph Milanowycz said. "He could socialize with anyone. It doesn't matter whether you are a teenager, or middle-aged, or 102."He'd been bitten by the golf bug, or as Twain called it, "a good walk spoiled". A game of frustration yes, but for many a pursuit that clears the mind and allows the troubles of the day to be temporarily forgotten. Golfers share a common bond and Greg evidently left a lasting impression with those with whom he played:
After his golfing friends learned that he was missing, a few dozen got in touch with his parents and donated $10,000. "These were friends we had never known," said his father, who has decided to donate the money to a New Jersey first aid squad.But obviously there are stronger and more important bonds:
Joe Milanowycz drove his son Greg from their Cranford, N.J., home to Penn Station in Newark almost every workday for the past three years. From there, Joe went onto his job in Newark, and Greg took the train to the World Trade Center. The two talked during the 30-minute trip.I can only offer my sympathy to his family, friends and co-workers, and to all 2,996 victims of that barbaric attack. I'd like to think these profiles might somehow change the hearts of those who erroneously believe that murder in the name of God can bring a person closer to God, even if it seems a tall order. But if nothing else they remind us not to take our time and relationships for granted. I'll treasure mine a little more after reading about Greg.
Greg, 25, told his father about the latest project he was working on as a cargo and marine account manager for insurer Aon Corp. He described how well he played a new golf course the previous weekend. He decided whether to eat dinner with his parents or visit his girlfriend. Maybe he decided to go out with his twin brother, Steven.
Joe, 52, misses those morning chats. "It's been very lonely," he said. "Although, in all honesty, I leave the house and say, 'Good morning, Greggy.' It's just something I have to do."