Last month I stood once again by the deep wound that is Ground Zero. I have been there several times since the Towers fell. The first just a few days after 9-11 when the dust still hung in the air and the heat from the rubble radiated for blocks. But this time was different, as I stood by the plaques remembering those who had lost their lives on that terrible day, I was looking for a single name - Joshua Aron.
I didn't know Joshua Aron personally. But over the last few months I have allowed his life to give a face to the many who died that day. From the words of family and friends I have gained an understanding of this 29 year old Cantor Fitzgerald equities trader who life ended far too early.
Rachel, his dear wife, (Joshua died just five days short of their first wedding anniversary) remembers the love notes sent by instant message, the promise to get back at her tormentors with the words - "You want to get em? Come on, Let's get 'em right now." She says of Joshua: "We were best friends. Everything just came naturally."
Joshua's mother Ruth wrote the following tribute to her son:
I lost my beloved son, Josh, September 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center horror. Josh was 29 years young, an equity trader at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of Tower one. A son who did us all proud; who reached for the stars and caught a few.
Though sensitive, intense, brilliant, successful and handsome, you were at your best loving & being loved. Joshua, you prepared for your whole life what you were just beginning to taste - the pleasure of success which flows from focused persistent hard work and the loving relationship you had with your chosen partner in life, your wife Rachel.
6-29-72 Josh, you announced your arrival into this life with a bang - that bang was your unique logo for life: to enjoy to the fullest, to aspire to experience the best in all of life’s possibilities. You gobbled life & made it look so enticing.
At 7 years of age you asked me to teach you how to read financial tables in the Wall Street Journal & to explain the work & where it was done. We made some joint investments - then & there you said that would be your career.
Josh, you gave us all a unique & genuine truth, loyalty & an intensely delicious way of inviting us into your favorite experiences & activities. I so miss your teasing me & your delight in my biting the hook you dangled. You have been a most caring & loving son."
Ruth was determined that Joshua's alma mater Cornell (he graduated in 1994 with majors in consumer economics and housing) transform the tragedy into a vehicle for educating students about national security issues.
The result of her tribute is the Joshua Aron First-Year Writing Seminar on "The Politics of National Security and Intelligence," one of the most popular courses now offered through Cornell's John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines.
"It's a very significant addition to the curriculum," said Cornell Vice Provost Isaac Kramnick. "For the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, Cornell is offering a credited course designed specifically to get undergraduates to think critically about some of the most pressing issues that face their generation and the nation as a whole."
Joshua's father Barry Barry Aron, says, "Not a minute goes by in a day that I don't think about Josh. ... It's like part of you being ripped out and you can't replace it."
His brother-in-law, Andrew Pitagorsky remembers Joshua:
Josh Aron was my brother-in-law, my friend, but more importantly he was my sisters husband…..she loved him and he loved her….and would have done anything for her…..he treated her like gold, the way I always knew she needed to be treated. From the day I met Josh at that first Hanukah dinner when Rachel said he was just a friend I knew he was more then a friend…..they complemented each other perfectly…. There wasn’t a thing in the world that josh wouldn’t have done for my sister and I loved him for that…I remember one day he came home with a new car for Rachel and she was so excited, or the time he got her the piano, and I remember all the times that I would come over for dinner, just the three of us and josh would cook the most amazing meals…..it’s a good thing he did because I knew Rachel wasn’t going to. Or the time he took me to the World Series for my birthday…..that was the best birthday present I have ever gotten….there were so many good times we shared and I am shore all of u have shared good times with him too that we all will have to remember...
Friends will call to mind his child-like enthusiasm, his ability to always be ready with a quip from an Austin Powers' movie, his constant activity whether it was in the kitchen, on his bike or surfing the internet. He delighted in the moments of life - repainting his Upper Westside apartment, installing a 200 bottle wine cellar or watching his 90 inch projection television.
Friend Joanna Seidler remembers:
"Not a day goes by that I don't think of Josh and his family. I have many happy memories with Josh, none that I will soon forget. He was a good friend with a big heart and will be sorely missed by me and many, many others. Keep his memory alive by thinking and talking about him daily; it helps. All of you be well."
That is the best advice we can take from events of that dreadful day. We can keep the memories alive by keeping the conversation alive. While I never met Joshua Aron, his life is now a part of mine and a part of yours.
More tributes for 9-11 victims can be found at the 2996 site.