This Monday marks the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America. Almost 3,000 people perished as a result of the acts that occurred on that devastating day. I will never forget September 11, 2001; how I felt that morning driving to work before the first plane crash; how I felt immediately after; or how I feel now.
As I drove to work that morning--a clear blue sky, sun shining brightly--the U2 song Beautiful Day was playing on the radio as I pulled into my parking spot. I recall thinking that it was an appropriate song for the day. Less than 15 minutes later one of the secretaries in my office came in and remarked that she heard on the radio that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by a plane. Another secretary pulled out a little television set and we watched one of the morning news shows. As we watched, what we thought was news footage of the original crash was actually the second plane crashing into the other tower--we saw it on live TV. A wave of disbelief passed through the office as it became evident that this was not an accident, as previously reported.
As the events of the day unfolded the sense of fear and confusion filled me. The visual images of people jumping or falling to their death is permanently burned into my visual memory. I cannot imagine what it must have felt to be in any of the disasters that occurred that day.
For as much pain as I still feel today regarding the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001, I know that they do not match the feelings of those who lost their loved ones. As part of 2,996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11, I have the privilege of writing this blog entry honoring Rajesh A. Mirpuri, an intelligent, successful, young man who perished that day in the World Trade Center.
Rajesh Mirpuri was born on September 18, 1970 in Hong Kong and raised in New Jersey. The only son of Arjan and Indra Mirpuri, he was raised in the Hindu faith and very devoted to his family. Educated at the University of Vermont and New York University, at the young age of 30, Rajesh was the vice president of sales for the financial software firm, Data Synapse, based in midtown Manhattan. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Rajesh was attending a financial technology conference at the World Trade Center, Tower One, 106th floor. Shortly after the crash of the plane into his building, Rajesh contacted his boss, Peter Lee, telling him of the thick smoke and inability of being able to see more than three meters. He left behind his grieving parents and many friends.
A devoted son is one way of describing Rajesh. His father was quoted in interviews after the tragic day of telling a beautiful story of just how good a son Rajesh was to his parents. In the summer of 1996 Rajesh was working in Tokyo and had told his parents of his plans to vacation in Hawaii. It was the day of his parents' 30th anniversary and Rajesh called his father, who was in New Jersey, to tell him he had arrived in Honolulu. Within an half hour, Mr. Mirpuri's doorbell rang. He found his son standing at the door as an anniversary surprise.
Rajesh was fond of the New York nightlife and fine dining, as well as traveling the world, watching and participating in sports. He did volunteer work to benefit the homeless and the elderly. He was a good friend, intelligent, hard working, and has a strong sense of family values. He was the type of son that made his parents proud as he showed that all of the hard work that goes into raising a child has it's pay offs.
To honor their son, the Mirpuris built a temple inside their home where they burn incense and have numerous photographs of Rajesh. They also held 12 days of puja ceremonies, in their home, as well as a larger memorial service at the Sadhu Vaswani Center, a temple in Closter, NJ. It was reported that Rajesh's parents received an urn of ash from the city of New York. Following the Hindu tradition, they planned to sink the urn in the Ganges River in India and pray for their son's spirit and those of all the other victims.
From all of the articles I could find about Rajesh it became clear to me that he was an amazing person, touching everyone who knew him. At his tribute page on Legacy.com, there are memorial entries from friends and family members, showing how truly missed he is by many. His parents' lives will never be the same. They have their memories of a remarkable son who demonstrated the important values they taught him as he grew into an adult. I hope that as time passes that their pain eases at least slightly and that if they read this, they feel I have appropriately memorialized their son. I wish them peace as this difficult anniversary passes.
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