Listen to these personal stories ...
N Abouzeid
Darrell Anderson
Andy Stevens
Rev. Walter Keymont
Saundra Skinner
Kim Abbott
N. Abouzeid
Darrell Anderson
Andy Stevens
Rev. Walter Keymont
Saundra Skinner
Kim Abbott
Click to listen
Click to listen
Click to listen
Click to listen
Click to listen
Click to listen
We Remember
 
Honored Dead: Victims of 9/11
 
Moments of remembrance on the South Shore and beyond
 
Stories of survival, heroics
 
Taunton man remembers the last day with his wife
 
Have things changed?
 
How attacks affected kids, and how are they now
 
Nationally
 
Brockton native decided how much to give 9/11 families
 
Graphic: Sequence of 9/11 events
Audio interviews and editing for this series were conducted by Cory Hopkins, Diana Schoberg, Ryan Menard, John Kelly, Andrew Lightman and Ken Johnson from The Patriot Ledger, and by Jean Porrazzo, Elaine Allegrini and Craig Murray from The Enterprise.
Site Design: Stephen Ide

 

LASTING MEMORY

FINAL WORDS: ‘I LOVE YOU’

Kingston mom recalls phone call from son the night before


The Patriot Ledger

It’s been five years, and Diane Hunt still keeps a life-size portrait of her son Bill tucked behind a couch in the living room, the last thing she sees before she goes to bed at night.

Five years, and she still keeps a candle burning upstairs for him.

GREG DERR photos/The Patriot Ledger
Diane Hunt's son William was killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Click to listen

Because five years ago, her 32-year-old son, William Christopher Hunt, was killed while working on the 84th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center.

“I cannot believe that I have not spoken to him or hugged him or had him kiss me or vice versa for five years, it’s just incomprehensible to me,” she said, her voice choked up as she sat in her Kingston home. “It’s just like a blip in time, yet it’s the longest five years of our lives.”

She turns on wedding videos to hear Bill’s voice, watching him give a toast as best man at his brother Dan’s wedding, the two brothers like best friends. Her face smiles at the sight, but the tears in her eyes give away the anguish that she feels.

Now, five years later, the memories pour out of her like a cloudburst: Bill’s first lock of firecracker red hair, the way he persuaded his parents to send him to Cancún when he broke up with an old college girlfriend, the late night phone calls on his way home from work just to say hi to his mom.

Hunt said every day is different. Some days now, she can laugh at the goofy things her son did, and take solace in how close the two of them had been. Other days, the same memories make her cry.

The last words they spoke to each other were on the telephone on Sept. 10: “I love you,” he said, as they were hanging up. “I love you too, honey,” she said back. It was the way they ended all of their phone calls.

“I know it sounds strange, but even to this day, I always have the little teeny, teeny glimmer, since we’ve never found Bill, that somewhere he’s out there, maybe still with amnesia somewhere,” she said. “I know that’s not realistic, because it’s five years different, but being a parent, you don’t want to give up that glimmer of hope.”

William Hunt had been married with a 15-month-old daughter that day five years ago. He was a vice president and bond broker at Eurobrokers, and just the weekend before, had signed papers on a ski house in Vermont where he envisioned weekends away with his family.

He had the perfect life, his mom said.

The fact that as the mother of a Sept. 11 victim she is handling not only her own personal grief but that of a national tragedy is perhaps the most difficult part, Hunt said.

Diane Hunt of Kingston sits on a backyard memorial bench to her son, who died while working on the 84th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Everywhere she looks, there are reminders - whether it’s seeing the towers on old television shows or walking into stores and seeing photos of the firemen or going to monuments and brushing her finger across her son’s name.

“Sometimes, I just get selfish and I just say I wish my Bill was one of the lucky ones. And then my husband turns to me and says, and so do 3,000 other families,” she said. “You can never get away from it. You can never close that door.”

In the five years since her son died, Hunt said, it has taken family, friends and faith to help her get to where she is today. She thinks that Bill, with the lust for life that he had, would want them all to go on with their lives.

“I hope he watches over us, as I think he does, I hope he looks down and says, ‘Mom and Dad, I’m proud of what you’ve done in five years. I’m proud of where you are in your life,’” she said.

Courtesy photo
The Rev. William Harding of Quincy stands with Abbas, an Iraqi youngster who is in Boston for surgery through the Iraqi Children’s Project. The Rev. Harding and his chaplain colleagues serving in Iraq founded the nonprofit organization.

Chaos among soldiers

HALF A WORLD away, helpless

The Rev. William Harding is the minister at Bethany Congregational Church in Quincy.

In 2001, I was on a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, working with NATO forces as a hospital chaplain assigned to the 399th Combat Support Hospital.

It was about 3 p.m. on Sept. 11 when we received word that the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon had been attacked by terrorists.

As with most Americans, it was a day that will be etched in my mind forever. Here I was, mobilized halfway around the world, working with others to bring understanding and peace to Kosovo. And in my homeland, right on American soil, terrorists had launched this horrific attack. Our families and friends had been the target. How many lives would be lost? And why? Who would do such a horrific thing?

I didn’t have time to dwell on these questions. Chaos reigned among our soldiers. Many had families in New York and the D.C. area and we needed to help them call or e-mail home.

I had to start making preparations for a prayer service that night, and I prayed for guidance about what to say: “God help me, stir my heart for the right words. God I need you, please, please, be with me.”

Somehow the words came that evening, though I can’t recall what they were.

Five years later, I am once again deployed with the United States Army, this time in Iraq. I’m a camp chaplain south of Baghdad and honored to be serving with our troops. The soldiers that I have the privilege of working with are the best in the world. You can be proud of these women and men who are bringing about stability in a troubled country.

This may not be what you hear on the evening news. But trust me. The hours are long and the mission tough but these soldiers have what it takes to get the job done. The results are in the faces of the Iraqi children and adults that we see all the time.

The goal of peace, the way to fight the horror of Sept. 11, lies in part with us standing with the Iraqi people waging war against terrorism.

To that goal, my chaplain colleagues and I have founded an organization through the state of Massachusetts called the Iraqi Children’s Project Inc.

It’s a nonprofit organization designed to help the children of Iraq. Maj. Paul Morrissey and myself, also a major, and Capt. Corey Bjertness are the officers of the project.

A major goal is to raise $20,000 to purchase a home for the local orphanage. Orphanages in Iraq are not the same institutions one might find elsewhere in the world. They are run by volunteers who hand out supplies. The orphanage provides for about 400 orphans and 350 widows.

The American people have been most supportive in providing needed supplies, and soon we hope to have a permanent home for these widows and orphans.

The organization also provides medical care for children who cannot acquire the needed treatment or surgery in Iraq. We raise the necessary money to send children to the States for medical care. The hospitals and doctors provide the care at no cost. One child, Abbas, is in Boston now for surgery and another is headed to Texas.

We pray that these efforts will bring all of us closer to a better future. I read a quote recently by philosopher Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Good will triumph over evil because light outshines the darkness.

If you wish to make a donation to our efforts, please send to: Iraqi Children’s Project, 3919 Halifax Road, Copenhagen, N.Y. 13626. Our Web site is iraqichildrensproject.com. God bless.

The Rev. William Harding is the minister at Bethany Congregational Church in Quincy.