A letter to Ken Kumpel’s Children – Remembering the 9/11 fallen.

Dear Greg and Carl –

One or both of you once wrote:  “Dad – you will always be my hero, I love you and miss you very much. I hope I get to see you in heaven some day. I hope you don’t forget me. I will never forget you.”

I never had the honor of knowing your father.  I feel almost strange calling him Kenny, but from everything that I have read about him – I am sure he wouldn’t mind.


Your dad wore many hats and wore each of them well.  He was a “Jack of all Trades.”  And from my understanding – self taught.

I can almost hear the awe in your voice as he took you to the firehouse to see the trucks.  I bet he even let you try on his boots and his hat – both huge on your small forms.  Sharing with you one of his many passions – that of being a fireman.  I don’t believe Kenny ever got over the awe of seeing the firetrucks.  Your dad got to live every boy’s dream – to BE a fireman.

I envision him taking great care in teaching you safety as you boarded the “Batboat”  and enjoyed as the spray as the Batboat sped across the waters.  Did he teach you the theme to the 60’s Batman show?  Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na BATMAN – ZING – OOF – POW?

I am sure he was teaching you his attention to detail.  If you are fortunate enough to still live in the home he built, you can see his loving touches on the stain glass windows and the wood working that he perfected.  I wish I had the opportunity to see the sun shine through the stain glass works – the light and colors painting a picture beyond the window panes.

I am sure his pride shown greatly when you scored your first goal in soccer or made your first hit in baseball.  As your coach, he was probably tougher on you than the other kids.  It wasn’t because he didn’t think you were good – it was because he didn’t want the other kids (or their parents) to think he was playing favorites.  I bet he secretly thought you were the best players on your team.

In my mind’s eye – I see the three of you giggling gleefully as you wrestled in the yard – or in the family room.  I can hear your mom, Nancy, chastising the three of you for “rough housing” near the furniture.  The sound of your father echoing a rueful apology and then the three of you starting your games anew with the laughter all the louder.

In the words honoring your father I hear about his commitment.  His commitment to being a loving husband and father were above and beyond anything else he ever accomplished.

Though your father more than earned his wings on that fateful September morning, I know that you carry him in your heart with each passing day.  I am sure that you can feel him with you when you least expect it.

Before today – I didn’t know your dad.  But from this day forward, I will carry him with me.  He is not a nameless hero.  But he is a hero not only for how he died, but for how he lived.  Though his life was cut short – too short.  He lived life with great gusto.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Second Hand Lions.  At the end of the movie, there is an exchange between a young boy and his father, “You mean the men of Grandfather’s stories really lived?”  The reply was: “Yeah, they REALLY lived.”

Your father REALLY lived.

Your dad is a hero.  Kenny will always be one of my heros.
I hope I have the opportunity to meet him in heaven one day.
I will never forget him.


Liz G.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Neal Lawson
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 01:07:48


    Beautiful tribute. I carry Kenny with me every day, and he is not only a hero but a constant reminder and example of a life well-lived.


    • chalkperson
      Jan 22, 2010 @ 01:36:42

      Neal – I am sorry I didn’t see your reply on Kenny earlier. (I am new at this blogging thing as you can see by my very few posts.) I am humbled that I was allowed to write about him this last year. He is a great man.


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