The man who inspired me: my husband
Sheila Ornedo wrote this essay on Dec. 10, 2001. She planned to submit it to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, seeking to carry the Olympic torch in memory of her husband, Ruben. Before she could submit the text, she was invited by the committee to participate in the relay as one of the 11,500-plus Torchbearers. Below is an excerpt of her words:
The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, drastically changed my life forever. I lost one of the most important people in my life. On that day, my husband Ruben Ornedo boarded the illfated [American Airlines] Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. Yes, my husband, along with many others, was a victim of terrorism. There is no doubt in my mind that my husband and the other victims are heroes. They all died for our freedom. The men who took their lives wanted to sabotage our freedom. They detested our freedom and peace and did not understand the meaning of the word "tolerance." ...
As the days move on, people come to tell me what a kind and loving person Ruben was. I knew how special he was. As his wife, I experienced firsthand his love and dedication to his family. When my health and the health of our yet-to-be-born baby were at risk, he stayed by my side night and day. He never complained about any inconveniences. His main concern was for me to get well and to save our baby. ...
Ruben was not just a loving and dedicated husband, he was a very caring and compassionate son. One touching story is that when his mother became terminally ill with cancer, Ruben took it upon himself to take care of her and try to ease her pain. He did not want to leave his mother's side [and stayed with her] as much as possible. He slept on the hard wood floor of his mom's bedroom just to be with her. Although he knew it was a losing battle, Ruben never complained. He just did the best he could. ...
As I ponder all these wonderful accounts and memories of Ruben, I become more resolved to tackle and fight back against the blows of this tragedy. My husband, who was a kind, wonderful and selfless human being, has given me the courage and strength to move on with my life and take care of our baby and the people he loved. Ruben was a very strong mannot just physically, but also in his convictions. He was a pacifist. His belief was to stand firmly for your rights, but persuade gently with words and not with violence.
Ruben is truly my inspiration. Even though he is no longer with me physically, I still feel the security and comfort he gave me. Again, the events of Sept. 11 have changed my life forever. But my husband Ruben has inspired me to continue his legacy of kindness and peace. We must believe in tolerance and compassion for one another. This was his belief. I hope someday that everyone, all nations, and all people will feel this way. I would like to tell my daughter someday that her father was truly a hero and an inspiration to all whose lives were touched by him.
Sheila Marie G.
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