Editor’s Note: The following column written by a Newburyport resident in honor of one of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Born on Sept. 11, 1967, I was known almost exclusively as Tommy throughout my first 13 years. Somewhere around freshman year in high school, I started referring to myself as Tom and pretty much completed the transition to my shorter name by the time I finished college. Shortly after that, I made my first move to Newburyport, where I was introduced to a guy named Tommy Pecorelli. My work brought me to New Hampshire, where I lived for several years before returning to Newburyport with my wife and two young daughters in the summer of 2001.
The day I turned 34 was the same day Tommy Pecorelli lost his life — along with nearly 3,000 other Americans — in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was 30. I only met him a few times many years ago, but it is still clear to me how big an impact he made on this small community. His smile literally lit up the cable TV office and studio where he worked and volunteered so much of his time while in high school. My former co-workers flocked to him, anxious to hear his latest stories, when he came in to visit during college breaks.
I remember the time he instructed me on the finer points of floor-directing at the Lend-A-Hand Auction to benefit Opportunity Works, which is shown live on cable television stations throughout the area, and his willingness to fill in on short notice to cover the filming of a Board of Selectmen meeting or Yankee Homecoming concert, or help man the phones for a big pay-per-view event.
Like me, Tommy studied communications at UMass Amherst, and began his career in television production. Unlike me, he never got the chance to experience the many joys of fatherhood. His only son was born six months after his death. As my two daughters inch ever closer to college age, I find myself thinking more about the increasing cost of higher education, the importance of contributing to this community, and the incredible example Tommy set for his classmates, colleagues, and everyone who knew him.