Sunday, September 10, 2006

Peter J. Owens

The sheer enormity of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 still really hasn't hit me. I was at home, here in Minnesota, when I heard. I was pregnant with my third child at the time, and I wondered what kind of a world my precious thirdborn was entering. I knew it was a colder, harder world than it had been the day before. I knew that there were gaping holes in it, left by the lives of those who lost their lives that day. I knew there was a terrible human cost.

Today, I remember one of the people who died that day. I won't begin to tell the whole story of his life. I won't come close to articulating the impact his death had on his family, his community, or our world. My talents, such as they are, are inadequate to do justice to his life. But he and I were paired up through this site, and I am going to do my best. My profound thanks to Sue, who led me to 2,996. There are links to all of the tributes at 2,996.

Edited to add: the 2,996 site has been shut down because of bandwidth issues. A mirror site can be found here.

So, Peter J. Owens, Jr., here we go:

Dear Peter,
How profoundly sad I am to write this letter. Five years ago, you were a regular guy. You worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, you loved your wife and kids, you went fishing with your buddies. On that bright morning, even though I didn't know you, you were in my thoughts. You, along with the thousands of others who died that day, and their families and friends, have been the beneficiaries of my prayers for these 5 years. (I'm not sure I have much sway up there, being a Unitarian Universalist and all, but the thought was always there).
When I heard about this 2,996 project, I was so excited to be a part of it. I eagerly Googled your name and found a few things: first, you were a Junior. That means there's a Senior. My heartfelt condolences to your parents, who suffered one of life's cruelest things, the loss of a beloved child. Your siblings must have been devastated to hear you were gone. You loved to go fishing and you had an annual trip with your buddies. What a terrible loss that must have been for that group. You and your wife honeymooned in Aruba -- how romantic! You had three kids, two boys and a girl. You helped around the house, folding laundry and doing dishes. (To a stay-at-home mom like me, that puts you in the "hero" category right off the bat.) But what stuck with me was you coached your kids' Little League teams.
My two boys played Little League this year. I saw firsthand the time their coaches spent on practices, planning batting lineups, organizing the dads who helped with hitting, catching, pitching ... Coaching is a full-time job, and you don't do it unless you have a love for the game and a love of kids. It sounds like you had more than enough of both. The kids you coached remember you -- the parents were grateful that every kid got to play, even if he was clearly not the next Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb. They appreciated that you taught them to love the game, and that winning was not the be-all, end-all objective.
So I'd like to say thanks one more time, from all of them. You know your kids appreciated it -- I'm sure they told you, and even if they didn't, well, you know anyway. But from a Little League mom who knows next to nothing about baseball but has 2 little guys who love it more than life itself, thank you. You made a difference in the lives of many kids. Your influence lives on in them, and I guarantee the lessons you taught them will be lessons they, in turn, teach their own kids, and maybe a few Little Leaguers.
Five years later, I hope your family has found some peace, and has held on to hope. I know they miss you deeply, but I want them to know you are not forgotten.

Rest in peace,

(This photo was taken from this site. I would love to provide a photo credit, so please leave a comment on my blog if you know who took the picture. Thank you.)


  1. Anonymous3:25 PM

    Beautifully written, Jennifer. The victims have been on my mind heavily lately, and I lift them up in prayer.

  2. Jennifer - what a lovely tribute to a man you didn't even know. And I am struck, after reading his short bio, that his daughter is now 18. How sad.

    Thanks for what you wrote,

  3. Dear Daughter: You never cease to amaze and astonish me! What a gift you are and continue to give to all of us! Love, Mom

  4. Jennifer, this is a beautiful letter. I am so proud to call you my friend.

  5. What a touching tribute, and I love the fact you put this in a letter. Thanks for giving Peter a voice today, and sharing his story.

    Also, thank you for your kind words - I am humbled that you were able to take this project on because of my post. It is truly flattering. Thank you.

  6. Jennifer,

    Your tribute honoring Peter J. Owens, was a labour of love. Love for someone you never knew, but you knew that Pete was murdered without cause, and I know it was hard to snoop around trying to find information about one of the victim/heroes of 911.

    I had much the same challenge with my tribute to honour, Frank J. Koestner.

    Never has such a group of good people (the 2,996 bloggers)banded together to accomplish what the media should have....and that is remembering.

    The media is blame blame blame.

    Thanks for being a part of the defeat of Americas second most evil enemy..

    Yes the killers who brought the towers down, and damaged the Pentagon, and who knows what the plans were of the last killer/hijacked jetliner..

    Oh we all know that, it is a good thing to honor the fallen, and crowd out the blame game of the media.

    Peter J. Owens deserved a few more good words, thanks.

  7. Never under estimate the power of a "grassroots" project- blog style.
    Thank you for sharing the life of Peter Owens.

  8. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Thanks for the tribute, it was well done. I never had the honor of meeting him, but I did participate in Middle School athletics with one of his sons.

  9. Anonymous12:20 PM

    God Bless You Peter. From another Owens who feels the pain of your loss and that of all those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Steve Owens
    Billericay, England