Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering the Fallen: Yuji Goya

I'm sure none of you need to be reminded that, on this date five years ago, terrorists flew commercial planes into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and an open field in Pennsylvania, and in the process took 2, 996 innocent lives as well as their own. Remembering what happened that day, we often forget that each of the fallen was an individual who loved and was loved. Each one of them has his own story.

I'm privileged to share what I know of Yuji Goya's.

Goya, of Rye, New York, was a 42-year-old Japanese national, vice-president of Mizuho Capital Markets Corp., and, most importantly, a husband and the father of two children.

We all remember where we were, what we were doing, who we were with when we heard the news that a plane had crashed into Tower One just before nine that morning.

I was in school learning about prepositions and tangents while Yuji Goya was saving lives.

He was the one who gave the initial order to evacuate Mizuho's 150-plus employees from its offices on the 80th floor of the South Tower. Goya, along with company president Takashi Kinoshita, and managers Masaru Ose and Keiji Takahashi, who had stayed to help him, wasted no time in urging others to leave, making sure his co-workers found the correct exits. They died when the second plane --United Airlines Flight 175-- struck the South Tower at 9:02.

Reading through the first-hand accounts of Yuji's courage, I can't help but wonder whether I would have acted as selflessly as he did. He didn't abandon his employees in some last-ditch effort to save himself; he stayed behind and did what he could to make sure everyone else knew how to leave. How many of us would have been as willing to save the lives of others if it meant having to give up our own?

Think about it.

I obviously didn't know Yuji, but just looking at some of the tributes to him makes me wish I had:
Yuji Goya was a business school classmate of mine. Although I had not seen him in many years, I was deeply saddened to hear of his untimely death. In business school he was a decent, pensive, and level-headed student and classmate.The world has lost a good man.
--Tim Goodell (Stamford, CT )

Mr. Goya was a firm, but fair boss, he worked hard, and played hard. He liked ski or sail on his vacations, and came back refreshed and ready to work hard again. He leaves behind a wife and 2 daughters who have moved back to Japan. My heart goes out to them. My family and I will be eternally greatful for his clear thinking and actions on 9/11. God Bless You.
--Tom Lochtefeld (Darien, CT )
Though there wasn't much information I could gather about his life, and there's still so much I wish I knew about him, I don't think I'll ever forget the things I do know. And I guess it's in this capacity that his memory lives on.

Yuji Goya should be an inspiration to all of us, not only because of the way he lived, but also because of the way he died. I consider it an honor to be a small part of making sure his heroism and bravery on that day aren't soon forgotten.

"Whoever saves one life, it is as if he has saved the entire world." [Sanhedrin 4:5]

...Think about the love inside the strenght of heart.
...Think about the heroes saving lives in the dark.
...Climbing higher through the fire-- time was running out.
...Never knowing you weren't going to be coming down alive.
...But you still came back for me,
...You were strong and you believed.

...Everything is going to be all right. Be strong, believe.

...Think about the chance I never had to say
...thank you for giving up your life that day.
...Never fearing, only hearing voices calling out.
...Let it all go, the life that you know, just to bring them down alive.
...And you still came back for me,
...You were strong and you believed.

.......--Yellowcard, "Believe"

(This tribute is a part of the 2996 project; those for other 9/11 victims can be found here.)