September 11, 2006

In Memory of Don Simmons

Mr. Simmons.JPG

It is here. September 11. I am posting early. I want this on my blog all day. I want anyone who peruses the blogs and stumbles upon mine to know him. I want anyone who reads me on a regular basis to know him. He is more than a statistic. He is more than a name read in the paper.

And I wish… I’d known him.

But I didn’t.

And never will.

Everything I’ve read about him says he was a wonderful man, husband, son, brother and father.

On September 11, 2001, Don Simmons was at work as a civilian for the US Army in the Pentagon as he had for the past 11 years. And on that day, he was murdered.

His death left a cavernous void in the lives of his wife, his son, siblings and his parents. He was 58 years of age and but two years from retirement.

He will never paint the sceneries of mountains as I read he liked to do.

He will never again fish with his wife.

He will never travel with her again to do the things they loved to do together… the antique shops, the mountains, the beach, the craft shows and the county fairs. I read they did everything together, never leaving the other’s side. She even worked in the Pentagon as well.

He was active in politics and was a patriot, having served his country for four years in the US Army in the 60s. There is no doubt in my mind that he was active in the process that makes being an American great, listening to his options and voting in this great land and supporting our troops.

He will no longer be there to offer his warmth and compassion to his friends and family.

Today I think of everyone that died on that tragic day, but today I also know a name. Today I have a face and some sketch of who he was… but it is just that. It is not much.

I am saddened I cannot do this man the justice he so truly deserves. I know of him only of what I could find in various articles, but there is not much. But even if I had known him personally and could have written volumes, I still would not have been able to do for him what he so rightfully deserves.

Today I remember the victims of 9/11.

Today I remember Don Simmons and I pray for his family and friends that they continue to be strong in the absence of a man I know they loved dearly.

And to the family of Mr. Simmons, I express to you my deepest sympathy in your loss. I feel certain that one day you will come across this post for your loved one. I scoured the internet for information on Mr. Simmons and incorporated what I could find. Writing this was the single hardest writing I have ever done; there is no way I can do justice to the man that you called Father, Husband, Son, Brother or Friend. But he deserved to be recognized and I was honored to be assigned his name when I chose to participate in the 2996 Tribute.

If there is something you would like to share, let me know… and I will add it.

If there is something I have written incorrectly, let me know… and I will change it.

It is never too late… my e-mail address is

My prayers remain with you.

Posted by Boudicca at September 11, 2006 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Thank you, Bou.

Posted by: David at September 10, 2006 10:16 PM

I think it's interesting how well we've come to know each of these people through the 2996 tribute this year. We have finally given them faces, and instead of remembering 9/11 as the burning buildings and the plane crashes, we will remember the faces of the people and remember their stories instead. We can do no less for them and for their families.
Well Done. :)

Posted by: Laura at September 10, 2006 11:19 PM

Excellent. Really.

Posted by: Tammi at September 10, 2006 11:40 PM

That they lived is important.

Posted by: Nancy at September 10, 2006 11:41 PM

Bou, I read your post yesterday ("Woefully Inadequate"). I got the impression that you couldn't find much on your subject, so I went to the 2996 site and found out who you were assigned. My, my, you had so little to go on.

Initially, I could find nothing but his name and town and the fact that he worked as a civilian at the Pentagon. But, after tweaking the search terms a bit, I found some more details... The same details you found, apparantly.

A few years ago I used the various search engines to locate old friends. Some I found; some I couldn't. I searched my own name and found nothing. But, just because a brand spanking new state-of-the-art search engine wont reveal a damn thing about someone worth remembering doesn't mean that they aren't worth remembering.

Don's intimate circle may have been small -- his wife and family; his painting; his camping equipment. But that doesn't mean that his life was small. No, it just means that it was hard for you, as a stranger to him and his, to try to capsulize his existence in a few paragraphs.

I was lucky; Amy was easy. But you were given quite a chore. But, you came through, Bou. Even as you abjectly appologize for not doing justice to his memory, you've done him justice simply by showing us his name and face.

Replace the name "Don Simmons" with any of hundreds of others and you could call him "the forgotten victim", or something. But you haven't forgotten him. And you could have. (There are bloggers who've not yet p[osted their tributes and never post them because the task turned out to be too great.)

But you made the effort to remember not only a stranger, but an elusive stranger. It seems that Don's life was his own... private and close. The details aren't obvious because he chose to live his life with people who are similarly private. But, with what little information you had to work with, I think you've done him justice. Not much of his life is revealed, but that's how he lived it.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at September 11, 2006 12:14 AM

Lovely tribute, Bou.

Posted by: Richmond at September 11, 2006 04:27 AM

Tuning Spork- That is what I took... that he was a private man who lived his life privately with those close to him. Everything I read made him sound like such a great American... loved his family, did his job, took part in being an American. Some of the greatest people fly so low under the radar, and that is how I think of Mr. Simmons.

Posted by: Bou at September 11, 2006 06:10 AM

To be remembered is the greatest form of love and respect one can render. It ensures the future generations will not forget and spirit lives on. Thank you Bou for doing what I could not....

Posted by: Lemon Stand at September 11, 2006 07:40 AM

You wrote a great tribute, Bou. I felt very much the same way. What exactly can you say to commemorate a life that was cut short much to soon bsuch a heinous act?

Posted by: Jody at September 11, 2006 08:01 AM

I'm trying to read as many tributes as possible this morning, and yours is the only one to make me break down. Touching, personal... lovely.

Posted by: pam at September 11, 2006 08:57 AM

... today is a very hard day... thank you, Bou...

Posted by: Eric at September 11, 2006 09:27 AM

beautiful tribute.

Posted by: oddybobo at September 11, 2006 12:08 PM

A phenomenal tribute to a phenomenal man. I found too, that this was one of the hardest pieces I have ever written and I felt so grief-stricken the more I learned about my honouree. It was an important lesson in remembrance.

BTW, the 2996 has been shut down. There's a mirror site here:

Posted by: Sue at September 11, 2006 02:48 PM

Awesome! I linked it. If you haven't yet, go read Shoe's post.

Posted by: Denny at September 11, 2006 04:00 PM

Wonderful tribute, Bou. I'm sure his family would approve.

I also have a tribute.

Posted by: Mrs_Who at September 11, 2006 04:25 PM

Thank you for introducing me to Don Simmons. I liked the fact that he painted and went antiquing. I am sure his wife misses all the things they used to do together. It must have been hard for her, working in the same building, and still he was killed and she wasn't with him.

You've put a face and a personality on a name, or a name and a personality on a face, depending on which memorial site I go to. Thank you for that.

I also have a tribute, to Laura Gilly.

Posted by: Suzi at September 11, 2006 04:46 PM

In our tradition, we say that to save a life is like saving an entire universe...and when someone dies, it is as though an entire universe dies. Every one of the people who perished on this day five years ago was an entire universe. The tragedy is almost immeasurable, but as humans, all we can do is remember the ones we lost - one life at a time.

Thank you for doing so so touchingly.

Posted by: Elisson at September 11, 2006 04:46 PM

Bou it was a wonderful tribute to Don. thank you for remembering him.

Posted by: Lisa W. at September 11, 2006 10:08 PM

beautiful post, bou. thanks. it was an extremely tough assignment and you show much grace and compassion and love.

Posted by: shoe at September 12, 2006 07:23 AM

... still reading 9/11 tributes three days later.

That was exceptionally lovely, given what little information you had to work with ...

As someone who didn't know this gentle spirit, you certainly elevated his soul as well as anyone who may have known him.

Good on ya.

Posted by: erica at September 14, 2006 04:42 PM