Kenneth Watson was laid to rest on November 9, 2001 - almost two months after terrorists decimated the World Trade Center, where his body was finally found. He served as a firefighter with Engine Company 214.
Engine Company 214 responded to the devastation caused when the towers were struck. By mid-day, several members of the crew were missing. Kenneth was among them. The company's remaining men searched through the rubble and chaos with their bare hands - they had no tools.
In the days and weeks that followed, Engine 214 members continued to search for their fallen comrades, and became part of the bucket brigade, filling and passing buckets of debris from the wreckage along a line to be dumped into trucks, then hauled off to Staten Island.
By early October, there was still no sign or information about the fallen members of Engine Company 214. Then, the crew received word that a shield badge from a 214 helmet (belonging to Lieutenant Christopher Sullivan) had been found - but no body was recovered to go along with it.
October 31, the body of one of the company's men (Michael Roberts) was recovered, along with shields from two more 214 helmets (belonging to Carl Bedigian and John Florio).
By this time, enough rubble had been cleared that recovery crews were finally able to get to where Engine 214's men had been - on the first floor near the elevator, waiting to go up to rescue people.
The surviving members of Engine 214 dug and tunneled and worked, moving the debris, concrete, blocks of marble and ash, until they recovered each of their fallen, the last being Kenneth Watson.
It is a long-held tradition that each company recovers their own men. It is a tradition of honor, of pride, of sacrifice, of brotherhood.
Each of the fallen heroes of Engine 214 deserve so much more than respect and honor. They deserve for their stories to be remembered and told again and again.
For Kenneth's story, I looked to the people who knew and loved him, and their comments on his tribute page.
Kenneth was a loving husband to Susan, and devoted father to his five children. Friends and family describe him as brave, generous, and heroic.
Attempts to find more, more details, more stories, more specifics about Kenneth's life fell short. It saddens me that somewhere, today, a wife and children grieve Kenneth's loss, and I can't share their story, can't tell how he met and married Susan, how he felt the first time he held each of his children, how he became so devoted to committing his life to serving others.
But, really, that's the enormity of it. 2,996 lives were lost on September 11, 2001. So, so many stories I'll never know, so many names I won't be able to remember, so many prayers left to say.
This tribute is part of Project 2,996, a cooperative online effort to keep alive the memories of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11/01 tragedy. See other participants, and their tributes to those lost, here.