I have been posting this tribute to Thomas McGinnis every Sept 11th now as part of the 2996 Project.
In Memoriam - Thomas H. McGinnis
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Thomas McGinnis, 41, was a commodities broker for Carr Futures and he usually worked on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange. However, on September 11 he had a business meeting at Carr's offices on the 92nd floor of One World Trade Center. It was there he lost his life in the tragedy we now call 9-11.
I received Thomas’s name at random as part of the 2996 project. And while researching his life, it struck me that if Thomas H. McGinnis represents an average victim of this tragedy, then we have lost much more than many of us can ever comprehend. He was by all accounts an exceptional man.
Thomas touched many people’s lives, and I was able to find many comments on his passing from those who knew him best. The following is just a sample of what was said:
When Iliana invited Thomas to our house, Thomas was a teenager,very tall and skinny. Through the years, he worked part time, studied and visited frequently. So they finished college ,got a job and finally any mother's dream came true, they get married. Since the beginning, my younger daughter Eva, and myself, loved Thomas and his family.
Thomas was a very hard worker, extremely intelligent and charitable. In reunions people gathered around him laughing at his jokes. Though the years, I not only saw him as a son , I learned to talk to him like a friend. The happiness was culminated when my beautiful granddaughter Caitlin was born. I am so happy I had the opportunity to tell him how proud I was of him and my daughter Ililana, he was surprised but he knew it was true. Thomas we miss and love you very much. God bless you, we will always remember you.
Love, Mom Ofe
I only knew Tommy for too short of a period of time and only saw him at family gatherings and at his outstanding holiday parties. But I got to know him to be a terrific and genuine all around person. He was kind and considerate, very intelligent with super high-energy. I will most remember his wonderfully funny and impeccably timed sense of humor. My heart goes out to Iliana, Caitlin and all family and friends who loved him for their loss. We will always remember Tommy.
Thomas was my cousin. We spent our childhoods together in NYC as our mothers were best friends. I remember calling his mom, Patsy, on 9/11. we we're still very much in shock but shared a prayer. It was so tragic as Thomas was moving on & up with his own seat on the board. So his meeting at WTC was to be one of his last with Carr. Tragic. His murder his loss... I am proud to call Thomas my cousin and will always remember those day at Washington HS grounds playing with Thomas and his younger brother James.
Tommy worked with my father, Tommy Reynolds, in the commodities business when I was a teen-ager. He came to visit us in Tyler one year and made an amazing impression on me. We took him to the State Fair of Texas and had a blast. He had such charisma and energy that you just wanted be near him and hear more of his crazy stories. He talked about his girlfriend Illianna, who became his wife, with such awe and tenderness. When my family reaches heaven, we will look for his spirit because it was one that brought peace, happiness and joy to all!
My name is James R. McGinnis and Thomas is my Brother. He was incredibly proud of his Irish heritage and one of the proudest days of his life was the day he met and had dinner with Gerry Adams. The greatest memories of my brother will be of the trip the two of us took to Ireland 2 years ago. It was the best trip I ever had.
The Murder of my brother has crushed my heart and it is so hard to rebuild. I have wonderful memories of my brother and he will live on forever in my heart.
''He read everything,'' said his wife. ''If he wanted to know more about Ben Franklin, he'd pick up four books and read them all.''
I was grateful to find so many testimonials to the life of Tom McGinnis. But even if I hadn’t been able to find these people’s good words, I still would have known what a great man he was. It is reflected in his last actions that morning, as shown in this account:
At 10:18, Tom McGinnis, one of the traders summoned to the special meeting, reached his wife, Iliana McGinnis. The words are stitched into her memory.
"This looks really, really bad," he said.
"I know," said Mrs. McGinnis, who had been hoping that his meeting had broken up before the airplane hit. "This is bad for the country; it looks like World War III."
Something in the tone of her husband's answer alarmed McGinnis.
"Are you OK, yes or no?" she demanded.
"We're on the 92nd floor in a room we can't get out of," he said.
"Who's with you?" she asked. McGinnis mentioned three old friends - Joey Holland, Brendan Dolan and Elkin Yuen.
"I love you," McGinnis said. "Take care of Caitlin." Mrs. McGinnis was not ready for that.
"Don't lose your cool," she urged. "You guys are so tough, you're resourceful. You guys are going to get out of there."
"You don't understand," McGinnis said. "There are people jumping from the floors above us."
It was 10:25. The fire raged along the west side of the 92nd floor. People fell from windows. McGinnis again told her he loved her and their daughter, Caitlin.
"Don't hang up," Mrs. McGinnis pleaded.
"I got to get down on the floor," McGinnis said.
The phone connection faded out.
It was 10:26, two minutes before the tower crumbled. The World Trade Center had fallen silent.
When he knew the end was near, Thomas’s thoughts were for his wife and child. A selfless and loving father, husband, son, brother, and cousin until the end. I pray that time has lessened his family’s pain. I pray for the soul of Thomas McGinnis as well, but I suspect it is little needed.
***Update: A Nephew's Remembrance:
I'm moving the following up from the comments section of Thomas's remembrance. It's the memories of his nephew, Brian, on that dark day. I thought they deserved to be up top. Thank you, Brian.
I thought I would share my memories of the day:
I was in 12th grade. I was looking forward to school that day to discuss the Broncos latest triumph with my classmates. I awoke to my mother pounding on my bedroom door. Figuring I had overslept again, I simply made an annoyed grunt to indicate I was awake. She told me to turn on the TV. I watched in shock before going to school. On my way in from the parking lot a classmate told me that another plane hit the pentagon, I distinctly remembering saying the following, "shut the fuck up, that isn't funny." I limped through my first period music appreciation class, where my teacher who had been holed up in his classroom since 5 that morning had no clue what was going on and conducted class as usual. During the break the secretary pulled me aside as I walked past the office and told me my parents had called and asked for me to return home. Knowing that my uncle was a commodities trader I knew this was a possibility but tried not to think about it. I remember walking to my car, saying to myself, "someone is dead. no everything is fine." I got home to find my mother in tears saying everything was fine, it was a false alarm. Reliable information was so hard to come by that day. I hugged my parents and told them I loved them and returned to school. I made it through my free period and micro-economics like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders. During lunch, I passed on eating opting instead to watch the news coverage with about 50 other people in the green room of the theater. I'll never forget watching one girl burst into tears as they replayed the second plane hitting. We went to our afternoon classes, Calculus and English, where none of us knew what to do or what to say. Soccer practice that afternoon was cancelled, so I went home. When I got there my mom was in tears, she met me halfway up the driveway "We lost Thomas." 92nd floor Tower 1. It hit me like a ton of bricks, my uncle Thomas was a hero of mine, the smartest and funniest man I've ever known. I was confused, "What? How? I thought everything was fine?" As I said reliable information was so hard to come by. He usually worked across the street at NYMEX, but was at a meeting in his brokerage house's office. The funny thing was that he never even should've been there. He had a bought a seat on the exchange and was going to start his own firm. He was covering for one of his many friends that was on vacation. The meeting he was in had no bearing on him, it had to do with the benefits of the traders in his firm. But that was the kind of man that he was. He'd give you the shirt off his back and never ask for a thing in return and he was always there to back up his friends. So when something came up that would affect his friends he was there to show that he was behind them fully.
From the NYT, Portraits Redrawn: