In the eight years since the 9/11 attacks, many in this country would have us forget just what was lost on that horrible day. The 2,996 Project has a different goal. The goal of this project is simple: to remember those who were lost. I wish I had a chance to know the man I write about today. He sounds like he was a truly great guy. But then I guess that's what made 9/11 such a tragedy. 2,996 people, who were great in one way or another, died that day.
As part of the 2,996 Project for 2009, I remember Edward Saiya.
Edward Saiya was 49 years old on that bright September morning in 2001. Working as a communications engineer for Genuity, he was on the 110th floor in World Trade Center 2 conducting a training session when American Airlines 11 was flown into the north tower.
According to a profile in the New York Times, Saiya called his brother to tell him about the crash, at that time believing it to be an accident. When his brother turned on the television, he was just in time to see United 175 fly into World Trade Center 2, the tower where Saiya was working.
The rest of the day's events are ones we all know. We've all seen the images, we've all wept over and over again, the tears never able to cleanse the pain from our souls. But we must never forget those who passed that day.
Edward Saiya will live on forever, in the memories of his family and friends. When there are comments available at the various websites on which Mr. Saiya is honored, it is clear he was very much loved. Friends post happy memories, loved ones post thanks for the time they were given with him. Even eight years after his death, what's clear is that Edward Saiya is still very much alive in the hearts of all who knew him. There are seven pages of comments at the Legacy.com guest book for this man. Please read them. They speak volumes.
Mr. Saiya, we will NEVER forget you. Nor will we forget anyone who died September 11, 2001.
Please read on:
Published in the New York Times Dec. 23, 2001
Edward Saiya: Minor Fame, Major Fun
The Saiya brothers have a place among the countless lesser-known Brooklyn legends. Frank, Art, Mike and Eddie were known as the Fame Brothers of Dayhill Road, based on the first letters of their names.
The Saiyas were tough boys. They went to Catholic school and they liked their beer. They served in Vietnam. But they were not so tough that they could not say they loved each other. Mike Saiya died a few years ago of liver cancer. Eddie Saiya, 49, was a communications engineer who worked on the 110th floor of 2 World Trade Center.
"He called me that morning from the roof, calm as could be, and told me to turn on the TV," Frank Saiya said. "The first building had been hit. He thought it was an accident."
Edward Saiya had two children, Katherine, 16, and Shawn, 11. Their mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, sometime asks how Eddie is doing, Frank Saiya said. They tell her just fine.
Frank, 60, is the eldest Fame brother. He now lives in Topeka, Kan., and has 20 pounds of the trade center rubble in his home. "Maybe part of Eddie is in there," he said. He's got that and the memory of Eddie Saiya in 1969 chasing down two thieves who had stolen his car. "He wasn't wearing anything but his skivvies."
From the Topeka Capital Journal originally published September 13, 2002.
By Vincent Brydon of The Capital-Journal
Topeka resident Frank Saiya, 61, is the last of the Brooklyn-born FAME (Frankie, Artie, Mike and Ed) brothers living in the United States.
Artie, 59, is retired and living in England, Michael died at age 51 from liver cancer three years ago and Edward, the baby, died one year ago on the 110th floor of the World Trade Center's South Tower when terrorists attacked the nation's Eastern Seaboard on Sept. 11, 2001.
Frank Saiya said the office where his brother worked for Genuity, a network service provider, was about six blocks away from the World Trade Center. According to Genuity officials, Edward Saiya was conducting a training session in the South Tower the morning of Sept. 11.
Edward Saiya, a Genuity employee of 20 years, was 49.
"We were getting ready to have a big blowout for his 50th birthday in November," Frank Saiya said.
Just before 8 a.m. on Sept. 11, Edward Saiya telephoned his oldest brother, who was still asleep in Topeka.
" 'Turn on your television. The World Trade Center's just been hit by a plane,' " Frank Saiya recalled his brother saying. "I turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit tower two, the one he was in."
Saiya discussed his family's loss in the Sept. 17, 2001, edition of The Topeka Capital-Journal. A year later, Saiya said sharing his story helped him deal with his grief.
"I remember when this first happened, I debated whether or not to make it public," he said. "But what I found out was that it helped a community put a face on something that seemed so surreal."
Linking Topeka to a tragedy that captivated the nation generated an enormous amount of appreciation, Saiya said, noting that Topekans showered him with countless telephone calls and letters of support.
"It let me know that I wasn't alone in my grief," Saiya said.
But the Saiya family continues to sort through the aftermath of Edward Saiya's death.
"I've made five trips to New York since Sept. 11 to try and take care of his affairs and see that his wishes, so far as his children are concerned, are carried out," Frank Saiya said.
Making sure his brother's children --- Kathrine, 16, and Shawn, 12 --- receive a good education and remain connected with the Saiya family was always chief among Edward Saiya's priorities, his brother said.
Fulfilling the latter of these wishes has posed the most trouble.
"We have not been able to spend any time with them since Ed's memorial last September," Frank Saiya said.
But Saiya said his healing progressed during his most recent trip to New York, less than two weeks ago, when he cleaned out his brother's Brooklyn apartment.
"There were mixed emotions there," he said. "There were reminders of my brother. But there was also some relief, that maybe I could go on with my life at this point, because I did everything I could to see that his wishes were carried out."
Moving on, not forgetting, is what Saiya said he is ready to do. But, even if he chose to forget, it would be impossible. He finds constant reminders of his brother everywhere, even in the most unexpected of places.
While in New York, he opened up a copy of The New York Vue --- a weekly TV guide published by The New York Daily News --- only to see Edward Saiya's image on page five. His brother's picture, along with pictures of other people missing in the World Trade Center attacks, is shown plastered on a wall outside Bellevue Hospital.
It is the same at home.
Copies of "One Nation: American Remembers September 11, 2001," a Life magazine publication with an introduction by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and "A Tribute," a book by acclaimed photographer Jay Maisel, lie on the coffee table in Saiya's Shawnee Heights home.
There is also Edward Saiya's martini glass in Frank Saiya's kitchen, a reminder of his brother's biannual trips to Topeka.
During Edward Saiya's last trip to Topeka in March 2001, the two brothers visited their mother, who lives in a Topeka nursing home, had drinks at The Scoreboard, a sports bar at S.E. 21st and California, and watched sports on television.
"He'd come here to visit and we had a blast," Frank Saiya said. "We always had a blast."
Saiya said the loss of his brother has heightened his appreciation for life.
"Like most Americans, it changed my outlook on life. We just don't know what life may bring us," he said. "I don't worry about the future any more. I think about the future, but I don't worry about it. I just want to enjoy life."
This is the type of attitude Edward Saiya would want Americans to adopt, his brother said.
Recalling that his brother served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, Saiya said, "Ed was a real American. He really loved this country."
"We're third-generation Americans of Italian descent: not Italian- Americans, we're American first, then Italian. If he were aware now of what has happened to this country (the terrorist attacks) it would break his heart. But he would rise up and face it."
It is for this reason, Saiya said, he supports the war on terrorism.
"The best way to honor those people is for us to stand up to this type of terrorism," he said. "You have to fight for peace and you have to be strong to maintain it."
Thank you for taking the time to read about Edward Saiya. On behalf of myself and my family I would like to thank the 2,996 Project for taking on the task of putting this event together. It is a very beautiful thing.
May God bless and keep the family of Mr. Edward Saiya and all those who died on 9/11. It is our duty to always remember them and all who have died as a result of terrorism around the world. Only by remembering their deaths can we remember just how dangerous our world is and how important it is for us to fight for freedom and safety around the world.