« Back

Remembering September 11

Article - Sunday, September 11, 2011
One decade after the attacks of September 11, 2001, 10 people pay tribute to loved ones lost and share the unique, enduring ways in which they celebrate their lives.

Real Simple Magazine, September 2011

Photo by Gareth McConnell

“I Go to an Angels Game.”

Brad Burlingame | 58 | Los Angeles
His brother, Charles Burlingame, 51, was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.

My oldest brother, Chic, and I grew up several miles from the baseball stadium in Anaheim, California. Along with our other two siblings, we were big baseball fans. In fact, Chic and I were planning to celebrate his 52nd birthday by going to an Angels game. The game date was September 12, 2001.

Ever since then, if the Angels have a home game on or around that day, my wife, Diane, and I go in honor of my brother. I think of Chic and wish he were there to watch alongside me, have a hot dog and a beer, and just enjoy the day.

He was the oldest kid in our family, and we all looked up to him. He had known he wanted to be a pilot since he was a kid—and he realized that dream. All my siblings and I enjoy what we do, but Chic never talked about his vocation as “work.” He would just say, “I’m going flying.”

When I spoke with reporters about Chic in the days after 9/11, I would always talk about his accomplishments but end with mentioning what a huge Angels fan he was. The team’s communications director noticed one such article and asked me to throw out the first pitch for their home opener in 2002, which happened to be the first game in Major League Baseball that year. I walked out to the mound as the packed stadium cheered and Navy SEALs parachuted onto the field. The Angels lost that game but went on to win the World Series that season, for the first time ever. I like to think they had help from a real angel.

I go to games now whenever I can. It’s particularly poignant to do so in September—near the dates of Chic’s birthday and his death. Whenever I see someone hit a home run, I get caught up in the excitement and turn to say something to my brother—before I remember, again, that he’s not there.

To read the other nine stories, click here.