I was working as the director of public relations and marketing for the Buffalo Bisons in the spring of 2002. For our Opening Day festivities we felt it would be appropriate to have a ceremony honoring the victims of the 9/11 tragedy from the previous fall.
We knew of one Western New Yorker who lost his life during the attack. Leonard Castrianno, Jr. was working in the north tower of the World Trade Center that morning. We contacted Leonard’s father and invited the Castrianno family to the game. I said we would be honored to have him throw out a ceremonial first pitch in honor of his son. He accepted the invitation.
In a somewhat thankful sense, that is my only personal connection to the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
I was in New York in January of 2012. On my last day there I had a little extra time before my flight, so I jumped on the subway to go to Ground Zero. As I exited the subway I wound my way around the fenced area towards the entrance of the 9/11 Memorial.
I entered the memorial area and walked up to the reflecting pool where the south tower once stood. The perimeter of each pool features bronze panels with the names of the individuals who lost their lives that day. As I looked at the names in front of me I thought of Mr. Castrianno, my only connection to 9/11. I didn’t have much time, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to look for his son’s name.
Of course I had my camera with me, so I snapped some quick pictures of the south pool and walked towards the north pool. I took pictures of the buildings being built and of the park area around the pools.
It was January, but it was beautiful day in the city. The sun was shining and the temperature was approaching 50 degrees.
It’s hard to describe the memorial site. Even with the sound of construction close by, and the din of the New York City, there is a calm reverence within the area. The word beautiful doesn’t seem appropriate, but it is a place for deep reflection.
After I took a few more quick pictures at the north pool, I looked down at the names in front of me to see “Leonard Castrianno." Of the thousands of names at the site, I just happened to walk up to that spot. I took a quick picture of his name and moved slightly to get a different angle. As I crouched to get my next picture, a gust of wind blew up and sprayed water over the wall in my direction just as I snapped the shutter. I quickly moved out of the spray and wiped the camera off.
When I looked at the picture I had just taken I was awestruck to see that the spraying water had caused a rainbow effect right over Leonard’s name.
When I got home I called both Leonard’s mother and father and reintroduced myself. I told them my story and asked if they would each like a copy of the picture. Their responses were very positive, and I sent pictures to each of his parents. They each sent me very touching thank you notes. They told me they that they will be traveling as a family to NYC in July (2012), and would love to have pictures made for the whole family. I sent them a package of photos.
It was a day of random coincidences for me – thinking of Mr. Castriano as I walked in, walking right up to his son’s name, and the weather enhanced photo. I will never forget that one-of-a-kind photo, and will always remember the events of 9/11. We should never forget.
P.S. - We took a family vacation to New York City in 2013, and we went to Ground Zero. It remains a reverent tribute to the many lives affected that day. As a family we paused and looked at many of the names of the people who left us that day, including Mr. Castrianno.