Posts tagged Brady Howell
9/11 Pentagon Photos: This Was Tough to Read.

It has been more than 15 years since the 9/11 attacks in New York, and Washington D.C. Of course in the years since then there have been documentaries, coffee table books, countless photo sites and blog posts - perhaps even to the extent that we've grown used to seeing the photos of mounds of rubble, of first the search and then the recovery at the World Trade Center, and those terrible, terrifying video clips of the plane that hits the second tower, and the first tower itself collapsing. I think for those of us who were alive on 9/11 those Twin Tower images have become like an annual pilgrimage, brought out once a year to be reflected on. 

9/11 Twin Towers: Well Documented

For my part, those video clips are burned in memory, and I will never, as long as I live, forget what it felt like to see that.  You don't have to, of course, but here is a vid you can watch to remember. 

The events of September 11, 2001, arranged into a news narrative, as they unfolded live on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, BBC, and Sky News. Also included are notable excerpts from the FAA and NORAD audiotapes, a 9-1-1 call to a New York City dispatcher, and a portion of the recording from United Airlines Flight 93's cockpit voice recorder.

My little sister was serving an LDS mission in New York City on 9/11, and I clearly remember the wait through all that day before we were able to find out that she had been in White Plains and was safe. So relieved. Surely nobody from our little town of 1200 in Southeast Idaho would have been anywhere near there. In one respect I was right - as far as I know, nobody I knew was directly involved in New York City on 9/11. But in another, I was very wrong, because New York wasn't the only place attacked that day.

9/11 Pentagon

I clearly remember getting a phone call from my mom that my friend Brady Howell had been killed at the Pentagon that Tuesday.

At the time, and since then, I think that perhaps the Pentagon attack has been a bit of a footnote. Partly, of course, that's because so many more people lost their lives, and so much more was utterly laid waste in New York City that day. And I think partly it's because many of the photos and footage were held out from release by the government. It is the headquarters of the defense department, after all. 

The Pentagon memorial has long since been built. Brady's name is remembered on a plaque and inscribed on one of the benches in the Pentagon memorial.

But I think that very lack of photo and video media is partially to blame for the nearly forgotten Pentagon attack - why it is so often only a footnote in our annual 9/11 pilgrimage. And maybe that's why this CNN article, that the FBI finally released 9/11 Pentagon photographs hit me so hard.

I've had long years and my own annual pilgrimages through photos and videos from New York City to process. But these new Pentagon photos bring back the rawness of learning that my own friend was lost. This photo in particular, makes my heart squeeze, and the tears fall on my hands as I write:

The two men holding flags in the foreground are obviously soldiers, simply by the way they are standing. They represent the earliest honor guard, the truest military measure of respect for fallen soldiers, as lost colleagues and friends - my friend - are found and pulled free in the rubble behind them. 

In the intervening years since these terrible, terrifying, heartbreaking photos were taken - since my friend Brady died - trapped somewhere in that very rubble in the photo above - I've had two gorgeous children, lived a life of such richness and meaning that, if I had been killed in 2001, I never would have known.

I've had 16 extra years on Earth, to explore and learn and savor, to read stories with and snuggle my little sleepy ones. To hold hands with my sweetheart. To stand in awe of so many blessings. And yes, to weep and grieve and pray for peace and relief when none seemed to come. But to live.

Today I'll look at the photos (most of which are in the CNN article above) and grieve some, yes. And I shared them here so that maybe a few others who need to grieve can, too. But I'll also simply be grateful to God for my 16 extra years, and for the time right now to be up and doing. Earth is a blessing. Life is a blessing. And the measure of our gratitude for it is how we spend that time.


In Memoriam: Brady Howell

I made a promise to myself, in memory of my friend Brady, that I would blog about him on September 11 every year. It's so hard to imagine that the world has been so long without his quick wit and winning smile. I 've missed a couple. But here is 2006, 2007, 2008

He was a great guy - one of those guys that is friends with everyone, and not a single person could find anything negative to say about him-except that maybe he laughed too loud, and was in on too many of the pranks (until he became Student Body President my senior year of high school).

He was my semi-distant relative: our great-grandfathers were brothers - his mom's maiden name is Bills and so is mine. We used to joke that we could never date because it'd be against the law. We still went out a few times, and hung out together with friends all the time.

He was a great singer. I remember at the mission farewell of a friend, that he and a group sang "Abide with Me, Tis Eventide" - all four parts, a capella. It was so gorgeous, and 20+ years later I still remember it.

At his own mission farewell (Elder Howell went to the Canary Islands - how unfair is that?), that the closing song he chose was, "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" and many times when I hear or play that song I think about Brady.

And mostly he was my friend. Mostly I will miss him, and the world is poorer that he is gone. 

And mostly I will never forget that he was murdered. 

Relatively speaking (say, a human lifetime), it has been a long time since the original September Eleventh. My kids weren't even born yet, and they are in 5th and 6th grade now. But in the scope of human experience we were attacked on our own soil like an hour ago. It'll be a day when the world changed for all of us - a true day of terror. A day that was the beginning of the war that still goes on, and might go on forever (who can say?).

Every single person who was alive that day and anywhere in America remembers that day. And I am posting in memory of my friend Brady, who was in his office, at his post in Naval Intelligence in the Pentagon, when the unimaginable happened. When his good and decent and influential and important life (just like the lives of all the victims) was suddenly snuffed out. 

Please take a second today in silence to remember the lives of all those - victims and families and rescuers - who are so deeply affected by this act of terror. It's important that we never, ever forget.

Because I Made a Promise

I don’t know if it’s just because I spent the day working here at home, or if there is just much less being said, but I didn’t hear much about the fact that it’s September 11 today. Maybe it feels like everything that could be said has been said, and we have only to roll our eyes impatiently at the cliches.

Well, I have nothing new to say. But I’ll recap my memory of the day anyway. 

Six years ago today, I had just arrived at work, and was getting my computer started when a co-worker of mine said in kind of a bemused voice, (I’ll never forget this as long as I live) “Hey, a little plane just hit the World Trade Center. Here it is on”

We went over to her desk and looked over her shoulder at a still photo of a smoking hole in one of the towers. We were thinking to ourselves, maybe that wasn’t a little plane. Those are BIG towers…

That was the last moment of peace and innocence I remember before the events began to unfold. The second plane hit while we watched on After that, we knew it was serious.

We all went out to the TV hung on the wall in the lounge, about 30 or 35 of us standing or sitting, looking up at the TV as the newscasts rolled. So many people were crying. So many others just sat there, stunned. And then the first heart-rending collapse. The immense cloud of smoke and dust and the fear that rolled outward with it. The awful sound of the commentators’ voices as their hearts failed them. I remember someone screaming.

It crossed my mind that this might be the beginning of the end of the world. That this might be the War to end all Wars, started with a vicious attack on innocent people. Who knows if that still might be the case?

I remember that the entire company shut down that day and they sent us all home. And it was later that day that I learned that my friend Brady was missing from the Pentagon. It was two days later that I learned he’d been killed. 



Brady Howell was a born leader (he was the student body president at our high school our senior year). He was smart and hilarious and ambitious and educated, and he was living his dream as a Presidential Management Intern, working as a civilian for the department of Naval Intelligence at the Pentagon. He was at work on that day, 6 years ago today, when he was killed by the plane flown in to the building.

I made a promise that I would never forget him. That I would never forget that he was killed by terrorists who seek to destroy the peace of this country and cause pain and sorrow, and grief and fear, anger and mistrust among us. That I would never forget to appreciate LIFE, to live it and love it, and be grateful for what I have. That even though our lives are sometimes full of fear and sorrow, it’s a good life, and how glad I am to have it. And how much I want not to waste it. :)

I’m taking this chance to remember that promise now. For me, this will never be just another day on the calendar.

Brady, my friend, you will never be forgotten.

Take just a minute and go over to the 2996 blog. This is a complete list of all the victims. All of the people who died. It stuns and saddens me how long it takes to scroll to the bottom of that list, without even reading names.

Here are some other comments from bloggers around the world. Feel free to leave your link in the comments with your thoughts. 

Maybe it’s just me hearing less about this. Maybe the years will fade this event from memory. Maybe there will come a day when “September 11” doesn’t instantly bring to mind that terrible day. But I won’t forget my promise.  Brady, my friend, you will never be forgotten.

Your turn: What will you never forget about this day and its aftermath? 


on 2007-09-12 04:07 by Jessica

Following a few more blogs. Reading a few more things. I stumbled on

this blog

, and he embedded a link to a really COOL story, being read in this YouTube video. It’s a children’s book, the true story of a heroic fireboat named the John J. Harvey, who helped put out the massive fire caused by the attacks at the World Trade Center. We’re totally going to buy this book.