9/11. Firefighters standing, heads bowed, in remembrance. Tributes. The ringing of bells. Moments of silence. Church services.
All of these are ways I’ve seen and heard in our quest to never, ever forget 9/11.
There’s one more. It’s the 2,996 Project. This is something I have participated in for the past few years, and it is so wonderful to be a part of it. There were 2,996 people – fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends, grandparents, partners – that perished on that fateful day. 2,996 people who should never be forgotten.
I have the honor once again of introducing you, by way of tribute, to one of those victims.
His name is Vincent DiFazio.
A man, who by all accounts was a wonderful father, friend, dad. A man who had a great sense of humor. A dedicated coach. In fact, at a memorial mass for him, many of the mourners were boys and girls, dressed in the various uniforms of the teams he coached. “When he wasn’t going to a game or home watching a game he was coaching a game,” said Pattie, his wife.
As quoted from people who knew and loved him:
From his daughter, Gina: “My Dad was the coolest guy around. He worked so hard but would never fail to make me smile. Everything is different without him. I miss your laugh dad and your smile. Whenever i laugh i think of you. NOBODY makes me laugh quite like you did. I love you Dad with ALL OF MY HEART”
“Vinny could bring a smile to anyone’s face,” said his mother, Frances Di Fazio. “He saw the humor in everything and everybody.”
Others who knew and loved him said:
“I remember Vinnie to be so very popular in high school. Such a terrific sense of humor and always upbeat.”
“Vinnie always made us laugh. He was so generous and so easy to be around. There was nothing fake about Vinnie; he was for real.”
“Mr. Difazio was probably one of the greatest dads.”
A man who had such a sense of humor that his mother thought he was “joking around again” on Sept. 11,when he called her from his office at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center at 8:55 a.m. and said: “We’ve been bombed again. I’m going to try to get out, like last time.”
He wasn’t joking. And he didn’t get out.
In addition to his mother, wife and children, Mr. Di Fazio was survived by two sisters, a brother, and 12 nieces and nephews.
I never knew this man, this Vincent DiFazio. I know now that he was 43, from Hampton, New Jersey. I know that he was a government bonds broker at Cantor Fitzgerald. Most importantly, I know that he was a father, a husband, and a victim of 9/11.
In this 2996 tribute, I am honored to pay tribute to this man, and to the 2,995 other victims of 9/11. Rest in peace, Vincent DiFazio.
“He was an unforgettable character,” his mother said. Darn right he was. I never met the man, yet I’ll never, ever forget him. Or any of them.