September 11th, Seven Years Later

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Irish Tombstone taken in March 2006


The Seventh Anniversary of September Eleventh is upon us. In honor of this event I decided to write about one of the victims of that awful day. While I was putting together my post for the Sixth Anniversary last year I ran across a Project 2996, a site dedicated to preserving the memory of those victims and decided that I wanted to participate for the seventh anniversary. Preserving people’s memory is important to me, if someone is remembered by anyone, then they can never truly be gone, their memory lives on.

What is my connection to September Eleventh, you might ask? At the age of 55, my mother lost a battle to cancer in the time between the first and second planes hitting the World Trade Center. My father was drawn to the television coverage (as much of the world was) and when he returned to my mother’s side she had passed away. I moved to the Frankfurt, Germany area in April, 2001 (I’m not in the military; it is marriage that brought me here). I was working that day and my wife called me and told me about the World Trade Center and asked me to come home. I rounded up the person that I car pool with and we drove home. On the way home I listened to AFN (Armed Forces Network, radio broadcast for soldiers, and one of the few English radio stations that I can pick up in my area) and they were broadcasting NPR (National Public Radio) coverage and the magnitude of what had happened was starting to sink in and I was becoming aware of more of the details. When I walked in the door my wife gave me the news of my mother’s passing, as coverage blared on CNN in the background. From that moment on, whenever I hear of September Eleventh (which is pretty often) I think about my mother.

Remembering David W. Laychak

I was trying to decide who I wanted to write about and kept running across David W. Laychak’s name, so I seemed drawn to him. I’ve never met or knew David, so the information that I have used to base my post about him was first gathered from stories and articles that I have found on the internet and later I was fortunate enough to be able to get some of my information from David’s sister Molly Laychak Whalen). This is my attempt at remembering David Laychak. He was working in the Pentagon on that September day.

The Father

David is the father to two children. Zachary was 9 and Jennifer was 7 at the time of his death. Losing a parent at any age is always tough, but it seem especially unfair when you’re a child and you lose a parent. David taught Zachary how to ride a bike and I read that Jennifer was looking forward to being taught how to ride a bike by her father. Dave was the coach of all Zachary’s football teams while they lived in Arizona. I can imagine the excitement David felt when he found out that his wife was pregnant with Zachary and with becoming a dad. How thrilled he must have been when Zachary was born. How ecstatic he must have been to find out that his wife was pregnant with Jennifer. With each child parents get to experience a whole world of firsts: first real smile, watching them take their first steps, watching them crawl, their first words, their first tooth, the first time that the eat vegetables (or try to wear them as the case often is!). How proud David must have been when his kids learned to read and write. Being a parent is one of the most important things that people can do in their lives and David brought two children into this world that will live their lives and keep his memory alive. David’s kids submitted a nice electronic card in honor of their father that you can see at Defend America.

The Husband

While giving birth to children is one of the biggest events in anyone’s life, your wedding day is right up there as well. David met Laurie Miller while working at the Pentagon. Both shared the fact that they had been military dependents. Laurie’s dad had been stationed in Hawaii and as such she attended and graduated from Hawaii Baptist Academy in 1980. They met when Laurie interned at the Pentagon one summer. Their first date was a Jimmy Buffet concert. They married in Manassas, Virginia and honeymooned in Cancun, Mexico. Laurie worked for NASA for 10 years before becoming a substitute teacher and raising her kids. They were married 13 years at the time of his death.

The Brother

David was respected and loved by his siblings. His older brother Jim has been the president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund (you can donate here), and hs given a huge part of his life to seeing that a memorial was built to honor those people that lost their lives at the Pentagon that day. The memorial is scheduled to open on the Seventh Anniversary. . His sister Molly Laychak Walen) wrote a couple of really nice tributes to David. She wrote a short one at the Progressive Independent and a longer really nice one at Legacy (note when I checked her entry was on page 3). You could tell from what she, wrote that Molly really loved her older brother. Jim had mentioned in one of the many interviews that he has had, that he was only doing what David would have done for him as well. David also had a younger brother Mile, who keeps more to himself and isn’t as public a figure as the other siblings. You could probably say that having a father (LTC (Ret) Robert Laychak) who server 31 years as an Army officer probably brought the siblings closer together. Living at a number of military posts across the U.S. and even in Terhan, Iran, meant moving a lot and relying more on each other. The family was stationed in Iran in the early 70’s so it was before the whole Iran Hostage situation. Molly, being the baby sister of three brothers, was teased a lot. There are so many families where the siblings have strained relationships, often having very little to do with each other for years, so it is nice to see where siblings do love their brother. I wonder what it was like at their dinner table. Did they have any special family traditions? How did they celebrate Christmas?

The Friend

When you live your life well, you’re bound to make some great friendships along the way. David was a groomsman at Roland Clavien’s wedding in September 2000, and Roland wrote foundly of how David was so happy for him on his wedding day and how David was always so happy when others were happy. Roland discovered that David had died after returning from his honeymoom. Roland also wrote about how David had been so happy that he hugged him, something that David hadn’t done in the previous 15 years. I wonder about some of David’s othe friends. Who was his best friend? Who was his first best friend? It must have been nice to have had David as a friend.

The Athlete

David received Varsity letters for football and baseball (four in total) while attending Hayfield High School in Alexandria, Virginia. He was the winner of Hawk’s Claw Award as top male student/athlete while in high school. Dave was starting quarterback in his senior year at high school. As quarterback in one high school game in 1978, Dave had four thouchdowns, including two where he threw passes to his brother Michael, the headline in the sports section f the local newspaper said “the Laychak-Laychak connection” Dave played quarterback and defensive lineman at Brown University on a football scholarship. He coached several football teams, in addition to his son’s teams while living in Arizona, he coached 6 to 8 year olds in his twenties in Northern Virginia. He was well liked and respected as many parents wanted Dave to be the coach of their kids’ teams. Dave liked hiking, mountain biking, and a variety of other sports.

In the Community

During the years that they lived in Sierra Vista, Arizona, they Attended church at “Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church”. Dave was so liked and respected that the community built a memorial in tribute to Dave at Tompkins Park by the flagpole. The first picnic ramada is named after Dave. Sierra Vista holds a ceremony in honor of September Eleventh every year. After moving to Manassas, Virginia, David and family attended St. Francis of Assisi in Triangle, Virginia.

The Person

From what I have read, David has come across as a kind and good-hearted person. He had genuine concern and cared for people and he shared in the happiness of others, he was happy for other people when they were happy. He was able to inspire people around him to become better people. He was nicknamed bucko while attending college. His favorite meal was meatloaf, I know that a lot of people joke about meatloaf and don’t like it but here must have been something special about the meatloaf Dave’s mom made (hopefully I will hear the story behind it one day!). He earned a B.A. in Organizational Behavior from Brown University. He earned an M.B.A. from Syracuse University. He enjoyed the desert scenery and open spaces during the nine years that he lived in Arizona. Dave served the Department of the Army for almost 18 years, reaching the level of GS-14. He loved his country and was proud to be able to serve his country as a civilian employee in the Department of the Army.

I hope that you have enjoyed the glimpse into David W. Laychak that I was able to provide. If you have anything about Dave that you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment. If you have anything about any of the other September Eleventh victims that you’d like to share, it is welcome in the comments.

What can I do in honor of September Eleventh?

  • Go to Project 2996 and write about one of the victims
  • Donate to the Pentagon Memorial or become involved in one of the other memorials being planned
  • Participate in the Rattle the Runway Ride a motorcycle ride that is held yearly in honor of September Eleventh victims
  • Organize your own motorcycle ride or event in your area in honor of the victims and their families
  • Pray for the victims and their families
  • Don’t ever forget (I know that I won’t)

**I’ve run across a lot of links in preparing this post that I plan to share via our Tumblelog and other social bookmarking sites that I belong to in the near future.

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8 comments:

Raggedy said...

I am sorry for the loss of your mother along with the tragedy of September 11th. Your tribute was wonderful. Mine is posted as well.
God Bless
Raggedy

Laura21230 said...

My husband, a Department of Defense employee, is attending the dedication of the Pentagon Memorial today. He left home with his camera and a pocketful of Kleenex... If not for a foot injury I would be there with him.

I would suggest that everyone visit www.washingtonpost.com today to read more about Jim Lavchak's unflagging efforts to see that this memorial be created. He did this not only for his own brother, but for each of those who lost their life that horrid day and for those left to mourn and remember.

The Washington Post site also includes a slide show which details the progress of the memorial from the selection of the architectural team to its completion. It includes pictures of the completed memorial as well as the thinking behind the design the main focus of which is to provide comfort to those who suffered the loss of a loved one.

I would suggest that you too keep tissues handy as the story of the creation of this memorial is as bit as moving as it should be in order to honor those who died so tragically seven years ago today.

Marti said...

That wa a very moving tribute. Thank you for sharing and helping us all remember what a tragedy that day was and how many innocent Americans lost their lives. God bless you for taking the time to write this.

writer chick said...

I loved that his nickname was Bucko, that struck me as funny and sweet. And who can't love a man who loves meatloaf? Thanks for doing the tribute.
WC

Teena in Toronto said...

Thanks for your tribute!

I posted one too.

Cathy said...

A lovely tribute. Thank you for remembering Jim.

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FreeflyVA said...

Nice tribute to a great guy. I was lucky enough to have met Dave. Always smiling and very humble. I'm not sure words can convey how great everyone in that family is. The younger brother Mike is one of the most gentle, compassionate people you'll ever meet. True class.