I hardly have words to describe the horrible disaster that hit our nation on September 11th, 2001. Today is the five year anniversary. It is a day to honor the heros that helped to save lives and to pay tribute to the lives of all 2,996 victims. I have the priviledge to honor Alvin Peter Kappelman Jr.
Al and his wife, Barbara, lived in Green Brook, New Jersey, where they had raised their two daughters, Melanie and Kristen. He had been a volunteer fireman for Green Brook Fire EMS for 41 years. He came by it naturally, his father had been a volunteer for 70 years. And his uncle was also a volunteer for the department. Al had served as chief for six years.
He was described as a straight shooter, someone that would always let you know where you stood and expected the same in return. No beating around the bush for him. His friend and fellow firefighter, John Kline, said that he was very outgoing, but he was going to tell you what he was thinking, like it or not! His daughter Melanie said that he had a very gentle way of saying things, and that his business sense was softened by an honest caring demeanor.
Al and Barbara liked to spend their weekends at their home in Ortley Beach on the Jersey Shore. They used to comb the beach for sea glass or watch for dolphins. This paints a very different picture than the high powered executive. His daughter also remembered a time on the Jersey Shore when she and her sister were very little, and they all had gone to a parade. Her father noticed smoke coming from a house. He went into the house before the fire department even got there, to make sure no one was inside, because that was the kind of man he was, always putting others before himself.
He was an insurence executive with Royal & Sun Alliance. He was at the World Trade Center that fateful morning for a scheduled meeting with Aon Corp. in Tower Two when the planes hit. I prefer to think he was there by Divine Appointment. His family can picture him helping people to flee the burning buildings and offering comfort and care to those he encountered. I have no doubt that he was, because that is what he did. He was a hero!
You are missed Alvin Kappelman, by your family, your fellow firefighters, your coworkers, and friends. You did not die in vain. This country will always remember, not just the tradgedy, but the 2,996 victims and their families. We didn't know you personally, but it feels like we did. This country was united as one that day, and we lost our brothers and sisters. God Bless You All!