Franco Lalama was a traditional man. Born in Italy, he came to America at age 7 and settled in New Jersey. As the eldest son, tradition held that he was responsible for the others. It was a characteristic that would define him his entire life.
“He was very responsible, maybe too much so,” his wife Linda remembered. “He put himself last and everyone else first.”
At age 45, Franco worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in an office in One World Trade Center. On the day of the attacks, witnesses reported that true to form, Franco helped others first. He made sure everyone had evacuated the 64th floor engineering office, and then went back to check one more time. “Go ahead,” Franco told them. “I’ll follow.”
“My name is Marianne Keane. My stepfather Franco Lalama was an engineer for the Port Authority. He worked on the 64th floor of the World Trade Center. I’m reading this for his memorial. I don’t remember the last time I told him that I loved him. I would give anything to go back to the morning of September 11 and tell him how much I appreciate everything he’s done. But I think he knows that now. In my eyes, he died a hero. And how much more could you ask for?
“There’s a quote that pretty much speaks for itself: ‘You never lose anything, not really. Things, people… they go away, sooner or later. You can’t hold them any more than you can hold the moonlight. But if they have touched you, if they are inside you, then they are still yours.’
“Frank, as I look back on these days, I realize how much I’ll truly miss you and how much I truly love you. You were the best father I could ask for. I miss you and I hope you didn’t hurt too much.
– Marianne Keane, September 11, 2002, New York City commemoration of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack
December 09, 2005
It’s been 4 years already and I still miss you a lot. I can’t believe that it has been this long…it feels like yesterday! I was a freshman in high school when you were sent to heaven and now I am a freshman in college. WOW time flies. I miss you sooo much and I wish you were here so I can share with you all of my college experiences. I LOVE YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!!
Nutley, New Jersey
September 14, 2007
I worked as a temp for the port authority and Mr. Lalama was my supervisor. Although I only worked on the assignment for about 6 weeks I remember he was very kind to me. This was around the holiday season and even though I had only been working there about two weeks and I was a temp worker who would be leaving soon Mr. Lalama made me feel very welcomed and he even bought me a holiday gift which was a very lovely, gift-wrapped large scented candle large enough to be used as a center-piece. I’m also from Essex County, Bloomfield, so we would converse about our experiences commuting to the city from our neighborhoods. He was a very nice man.
Bloomfield, New Jersey
September 20, 2008
It’s been 7 years already and I miss you so much. I want you to know even though I’m in high school now and I’m wearing make up I will always be your little girl. I love you so much.
Nutley, New Jersey
I didn’t know Franco Lalama and can only draw conclusions as to the sort of man he was, based on the words of those who knew and loved him: a loving father, a caring boss, a good man. I challenge us all to remember him today, along with all the other victims of 9/11…to always remember them.