Ties That Truly Bind
The first responder and the family of the victim; it's a 9/11 kind of story
"I don't think he suffered," Regan answered.
Medals. A 9/11 memorial went up in Naperville in 2003. The Regans were iffy about the Shanowers' invitation to the dedication, but they decided it felt right. Afterward, the Shanowers asked the Regans to their home. Janice noticed pictures of Dan, surrounded by his Navy medals. Thinking of their own three kids, Janice picked up the medals and asked about Dan. "That felt good," recalls Pat Shanower. "A lot of people see the pictures and the medals, but hardly anybody examines or asks about them."
The two families stayed in E-mail contact. They had dinner together when the Shanowers visited their son's grave at Arlington National Cemetery. And now, both sides are looking forward to reconnecting in Naperville for the fifth anniversary. For the Regans, it will be a refreshing moment of solemnity in a world they see growing indifferent to the events of 9/11. "What I like about Naperville is they have a memorial to the people who were killed," says Mike Regan. "I live in Herndon [Va.]. People who lived here were killed. And there's no memorial here."
The Shanowers still crave information about their son. If it feels right, they may ask Mike more questions about the Pentagon. And if not, they will still cherish the Regans' presence. "We have a bond with them because they've had an experience we haven't," says Don Shanower. "They recovered our son, and we haven't."