Monday, September 11, 2006

Jemal Legesse DeSantis, age 28.

It has been 5 years ago today that the world was rocked by horror. I remember how people came together in a way they did in the wake of that dreadful day. My husband said, "life in this country will never be the same." He was right. I cried for days, and in the months that passed, I've never felt such a patriotic surge. I was ready to sign up with the military if they take me.

9/11 is a culmination of terror and pain because we were awakened to the truth that America is vulnerable as a target to deranged terrorists. We grieved and wailed because of the many innocent lives that got killed, but we were also inspired with the stories of courage from the men and women who gave up their lives to help others.
This tribute is my small way of remembering one of the many people who died on that tragic day.
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First, let me thank DCRoe for taking the time to initiate the 2996 Project. It is an honour to be able to participate in this endeavor and remember the September 11, 2001 victims. For a list of tributes to the other victims, pls click here**.

I remember "Jemal Legesse DeSantis"


2,996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11

Jemal Legesse DeSantis, single, age 28



Place killed: World Trade Center. Resident of Jersey City, N.J. (USA).

Jemal Legesse DeSantis is a story of struggle and triumph. As a child in the 1970s, he and his brother fled from a repressive Marxist regime in Africa and had been adopted and raised by families in upstate New York. His adopted American parents were Annmarie and Vince DeSantis. He grew up and attended high school in Gloversville, NY. He went to college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. While attending college, he also worked in a restaurant called Margaux's Restaurant in their sushi/oyster bar. People who met him said that he was classy, warm, energetic, debonair. A sports buff and an athlete, he was on the track and relay team in high school, played league basketball and was constantly working out in the gym. He also had the greatest smile according to Steven Harowitz, whom he met in the summer of 1991 in NC while playing basketball.

Other friends like Jami Dichard and Karen Smith remember him with fondness. Jami met Jemal while he was working at Pace University officiating basketball games for the Lawyer's League. He remembered him as "a gracious player and one of the nicer guys."
Jemal played in that league with the boys on the ESpeed team, Cantor's public affiliate. The investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald suffered the single-most losses of personnel in the World Trade Center Attacks on September 11, 2001 - 658 of the office's 1,000 employees perished. However, there was no mention anywhere in my research whether he worked there or not.

Karen Smith remembered him affectionately because of his warmth and kindness. When she took her son to NYC for a yankees game, he volunteered to escort them on the subway after the game so that they could catch their train safely!

Other people who have met him said that he was a down to earth person with a good heart. He worked hard and thought about his family and friends often and had never said an unkind word about anyone. He was a Muslim and through him, his friends were able to learn about and respect the Muslim religion.

I wish I knew more about Jemal Legesse DeSantis. But my research had been limited to what was said about him on the net.

I can never do justice with this small tribute to Jemal knowing that I only have bits and pieces of his life. I do not know how Jemal spent his last desperate minutes. However, I am almost positive that it is one of the stories of courage in the face of death. I am also sure that the imprint he left on the people that knew him well and loved him so will continue to live on forever.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." - Ronald Reagan
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5 Comments:

At 9/11/2006 10:38:00 AM, Blogger brian said...

Thank you for your warm and caring tribute post. So many I have read about people just like Jemal who came here to build there lives.

Please stop by my tribute post for Gilbert and leave a link and comment so that others can come here to read.

 
At 9/11/2006 01:25:00 PM, Blogger Praying for your Prodigal said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful young man. My tribute is posted today honoring Sgt. Michael Curtin, a NYPD officer who willingly entered the Twin Towers on a rescue mission and was discovered in the rubble of Ground Zero months later. So many lost lives, so many heroes.

Diane

 
At 9/11/2006 04:20:00 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

That was a wonderful tribute, thanks for participating in this amazing project. That quote from Ronald Regan is so perfect. Thanks for stopping by my tribute to Marjorie C. Salamone.

 
At 9/11/2013 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Lilly said...

So it’s 9/11/13 and I googled my brother name and came to your tribute page.
Thanks for your wonderful tribute. I know that there is not lot information on Jemal online.
Few addition and answer to your questions. Jemal was a Broker and worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. Jemal was born in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and moved to the United States in the mid 80’s to NY. He was adopted by American parents, however his biological family was part of his everyday life and was close to his parents and siblings thought out his life.
In additional to what you wrote Jemal had a presence when he walked into a room. He had a contagious smile and loved to laugh and lived his life to the fullest.
He’s greatly missed.
Lilly

 
At 8/08/2016 10:37:00 AM, Blogger Robert Rorick said...

I knew this young man, who I believe was from Ethiopia if I recall. I went to High School with him. Even when he first came to the school and his English was almost non-existant, he had a smile that lit up the halls. Always friendly and smiling, he was a very nice young man. When I heard of his passing on 9/11, I was in disbelief. A true "living the American dream" young man. He will be missed by many, I'm sure
A wonderful tribute.

 

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