Project 2,996 was created to ensure the memory of those that lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 would not be forgotten. I will never forget that day, it has effected me tremendously. It is the day I realized that evil really does exist, but also that in dire times there is love and hope.
The memorial below for William Valcarcel does not do him justice:
At the time William came to America from Puerto Rico he could not speak English. At 5 years old he contracted Polio and even though the disease kept him from attending regular schools, he learned to speak English and completed grammar school while in the hospital.
He did not let the fact that he needed crutches to walk, hamper his education. William completed high school and also college.
William was a dedicated employee, proven by his 34 years of service at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. This had to bring it's share of headaches and frustration. Anyone that has dealt with a government bureaucracy when getting a building permit or driver's license has experienced first hand what William dealt with on a daily basis. He had to deal with it from the customer's side, but also from the inside of the government. I can only imagine how many times he had to live through office re-locations, memorize new tax codes, or slog through a mountain of paperwork to get a sick-day.
Mr. Valcarcel was a family man. He was married to the same woman for 31 years, and he and his wife had 3 children - two daughters and a son. They raised their family in the Bronx, living on the same street for 24 years, which has been renamed "William Valcarcel Place". Marriage is one of the hardest things we will ever do, but also the most rewarding. Sharing your life with another person, knowing that each day you may hurt or be hurt by that person, but still remaining together is a sign of true love.
On September 11, 2001, William was in his office on the 87th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. At 8:46am the North Tower was truck by American Airlines Flight 11. He spoke to his wife on the phone and told her that it wasn't his building that was hit and he was getting out.
The South Tower was struck by United Airlines Flight 175 at 9:03am. The plane hit somewhere between the 85th and 77th floors. Fifty-six minutes later, at 9:59am, the South Tower collapsed to the ground.
The word HERO literally means protector, defender, guardian, but also refers to the character that will display courage when faced with adversity. Mr. Valcarcel met all these qualifications.
William Valcarcel is a true HERO!
NOTE: I purposely did not use the names of Mr. Valcarcel simply out of respect for them. Below is a list of the websites I used to gather information on Mr. Valcarcel's life.