Liam Colhoun’s final resting place is plot N-73 of the National September 11 Memorial. The 11 years since his death haven’t dissipated the pain of his loss. But the atrocity’s anniversary is a chance to recall not only the loss of a beloved worker, father, husband, and consumer of enjoyable moments but also celebrate that such a courageous person added so much during his time on Earth.
He was at work on September 11, 2001 as an operations supervisor at the Bank of America. But the seemingly typical day actually reflected the schedule of someone who figured out how to adeptly assemble his life. Stationed on the North Tower of the World Trade Center’s 81st floor, he had come to the job from a Wall Street firm in part so he could have more time with his family. Liam’s ability to balance time between a rewarding profession and unpaid yet far more rewarding time can best be classified as inspirational.
Excelling at a profession enables the opportunity to pursue the aspects of life one chooses. Liam’s actualized abilities were evidenced by the fond words shared by his employer after his passing where doing a good job was only part of the story shared.
The clear impact someone with an eclectic range of interests had on those around him is reflected by how so many people have taken the time to leave kind words about him at a guest book established in his honor. Such postings about his likeability and kindness reflect the nature of someone whom others were lucky to have known.
All accounts note that his skills as a manager were only the beginning of who he was. Anyone should admire how a great worker still managed to be a wonderful family man to his wife Helen and his daughter Brigid, who was five at the time of his passing. Those in his life have noted how wonderful he was with his child in the ultimate sign of any father’s success.
Without any inkling that his years would be diabolically abbreviated, Liam showed what kind of person he was in the time he had. And he did so right up until and especially at the end: the last reported sight of Liam in the tower after the attack and before the collapse was of him helping an elderly woman down the stairs. How many people have an opportunity to set an example of how to live life at the end of theirs? We should always remember that he acted unbelievably chivalrously in a moment of lethally perilous chaos.
Someone who represented the best of New York City was intimately connected to it. Liam was from Flushing, Queens and an alumnus of Manhattan’s Baruch College.He helped reinforce the image of Gothamites as people who thrive in challenging fields and yet don’t really get to their days until they’re out of the office.
And he will always serve as an example of a person with a successful career who didn’t let his successful career define him as a person. As an embodiment of a wild side that he professionally kept latent at work, Liam was known to wear a motorcycle jacket and earring after the workday’s end and indulge in rock music at home. Free time is valuable to those who have earned it.
Liam was 34 when mass-murdering terrorists took his life. It will always remain horrifying to think that each of the thousands killed lost the things they enjoyed and everything else that made them people. Meanwhile, everyone else lost the gifts the victims brought to the world, a pain most acutely felt by their families and friends who achingly endure eternally empty voids.
But commemorating the lives of individuals is the best way to celebrate the apex of humanity represented by those who were victims of intolerable injustice. Liam worked hard at something for which he had a talent while caring for those close to him, which will always remain a range of traits to which to aspire. All we can do is remember the amazing impact he had in his absence.
Eleven years later, nothing can make up for losing Liam. But being aware of how much he did before he was murdered should make anyone grateful for the time they have. His grave is also the site where he excelled and achieved a striking level of success as a person, in part because an impressive career was only a portion of what made him notable. A day that ended with unfathomable sadness began seemingly ordinary as part of his extraordinary life.
He did a tremendous amount in the years he had. Living life to the fullest wasn’t a cliché for Liam. The only thing we can do is honor him by appreciating what we have, working hard to accomplish what’s worthwhile, and aiding those in distress even at personal risk. Anyone should hope to live like Liam did.
Originally published September 11, 2012.