Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 fallen firefighter remembered often

I was trying decide what I wanted to write in my blog today. Then I came across this column I wrote in 2006. So, here it is again:

9/11 fallen firefighter remembered often

Christian Michael Otto Regenhard is a man whom I never met and who lived hundreds of miles away. However, he's someone I think of often. Here's why.

On September 11, 2001, I woke up feeling nauseous, fatigued, achy and swollen as you might expect from a woman who was 8 months pregnant. Although I only had about four weeks left of work before going on maternity leave, I felt lousy enough to stay home and use a sick day.

After my oldest son was off to school, I got in the shower. A few minutes later, my husband stuck his head in the door and said that my sister called and said to turn on the television because a plane had struck the World Trade Center.

I hurried out of the shower. I've never been to New York and didn't know anything about the towers or the area. I sat in front of the television and watched in horror as another tower was struck and each came crashing to the ground.

I didn't know one person who was directly impacted by the terrorist attacks on 9/11, but like most other Americans, I felt such a sense of sorrow and just sobbed for days.

My due date was Oct. 15, 2001. I hoped my baby, which we knew would be a son, wouldn't arrive on Oct. 11, 2001. I just didn't want his birthday associated with the one-month anniversary of those horrific events (like I had any choice in the matter!).

I loved the name Carter and we were pretty sure that Carter would be our son's first name. We were still mulling over middle names. We'd come up with a list of two dozen or so that we were considering. One of them was Christian.

On Sept. 24, my husband and two older sons weren't home and I turned on the television to watch the prayer service that was taking place at Yankee Stadium. As the camera panned around the crowd showing somber faces grasping photos of loved ones missing in the disaster, for just a couple seconds it focused in on a woman holding a large picture of a young firefighter.

Underneath the photo was the name "Christian." I knew right then that I'd found our son's middle name.

Carter Christian arrived on Oct. 11, 2001. I remember watching the television in my labor room that morning as the president spoke and asked for a moment of silence for all those lost exactly one month earlier.

Although I knew nothing more about this man except that he was a firefighter missing in New York on 9/11, I thought about him often -- whenever I'd say or write my son's full name, when I'd look at the calendar on the 11th of the month, when something would come on television about the World Trade Center towers.

Earlier this year, I thought I'd do some looking on the Internet to at least learn his full name. Within a couple minutes I'd found a site listing the 343 firefighters lost on 9/11. I read each name on the list until I found the first name Christian. There was only one with that first name, Christian Michael Otto Regenhard. It also had his picture.

Just this week, I thought I'd try to find out more than just his name. An Internet search brought up numerous articles on his memorial service and his mother's attendance in hearings related to 9/11 and the organization she started in Christian's memory, the Skyscraper Safety Campaign (

I learned that Christian had just graduated from the fire academy in July 2001 and was a rookie, or "probie" in firefighter terms. He had served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and had traveled to 22 different countries. He was a hero whose life ended way too soon, like so many others that day.

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