The 2,996 Tribute to the Victims of 9/11
When your father is six foot three it is quite easy for a young child to worship his dad as his hero. In the case of eight year old Nicholas Berger his father really was a hero.
On the morning of September 11, 2001 James Berger was working in his office in the World Trade Center. He was a Senior Vice President at Aon Corporation, an insurance firm that employed 1,100 people in the south tower. Understandably, there was no safety handbook on what to do if the building next door to you is hit by an airplane. So after the first jet hit the north tower it was very wise of James and the Aon executive staff to make the decision to evacuate their personnel.
James Berger felt an overwhelming responsibility to his employees. He could have made the easy decision to leave while there was still time, but he knew that someone had to stay behind to coordinate the evacuation. His unselfish sense of duty was emphasized when a crowd of evacuees tried to drag him into an elevator. He firmly stated, “No. I’m going back”. Thanks to his efforts only 175 out of 1,100 Aon employees perished in the attacks.
The decision to stay behind was difficult for his son, Nicholas, to understand. As a person of authority it was James’s responsibility to make sure that all of his employees were evacuated. Nicholas expressed his bewilderment that if his father saved all of those people so they could get home to their children, why didn't he save himself so he could come home to his own children?
Despite the misgivings he had about his father’s actions, Nicholas knew that his father was a real hero. When Suzanne Berger wanted to tell her children that their father wasn’t ever going to come home again, she took them to a local hilltop where James used to take them to play. After she broke the news Nicholas said that the hill reminded him of his dad so he declared that he was going to name the spot Hero Hill to recognize the fact.
When he was alive James Berger was literally larger than life. Now that he is gone it is only fitting that his monument would be such a majestic hill top that faithfully stands watch over those below.
James & Suzanne Berger with their sons Alex, Nicholas and Christian
For the stories of other victims of the 9/11 attacks please use this link to go to the 2,996 website.
Thanks to D. Challener Roe for this fantastic project that he put together, joining thousands of Bloggers to commemorate of the victims of those cruel attacks.