9/11: My son is easing pain of father’s death

·2-min read
9/11: My son is easing pain of father’s death

A Briton whose father and aunt were killed in the 9/11 attacks says his new-born son is helping to ease the pain 20 years on.

Jonathan Egan, 38, has flown from his home in the US to London for tomorrow’s memorial service due to be attended by Boris Johnson and victims’ families.

Nearly 3,000 people — including 67 Britons — died when al Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked flights into the New York’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

They included his father Michael, 51, from Hull, who was managing director of insurance giant Aon, whose office was in the World Trade Center’s south tower.

Michael’s sister Christine, 55, was visiting the US and dropped in on his office when the planes struck. Mr Egan, then 18 and at college in Los Angeles, was woken by the terrible news. Neither body was recovered.

Eleven weeks ago, Mr Egan, 38, and wife, Audrey, 34, had son Dean Michael, who is named after his grandfather, in New York where they live. Mr Egan, who lived in London when he studied for an MBA, told the Standard: “This year seems to be harder than most for some reason. You see the world differently when you’re a parent. Now that I’m there, I’m able to relate to my father in ways that I couldn’t before.

“Dean Michael looks like me and I look like dad. Because my wife is blonde, my son has lighter features but it’s just like seeing my father’s face again. He would have been a wonderful grandad and taught my son how to play proper football instead of American soccer.

“Dad was a loving man, a fun guy and brilliant. I miss him. I think how good it would have been if he was still here for us to visit London and Hull together. Christine was my godmother and a wonderful woman. My wife would certainly prefer raising Dean Michael with an English accent.”

Mr Egan called for more education in schools to counter extremism and terrorism, saying his father’s favourite Beatles song Hey Jude contained the lyric: “Take a sad song and make it better.”

Saturday’s memorial service is organised by Since 9/11, a charity set up to teach thousands of primary and secondary pupils from across the UK about the events, causes and consequences of the attacks.

Peter Rosengard, founder of the charity, said more resources are needed to tackle extremism in classrooms. He said children’s exposure to harmful online content during lockdown led to an increase in racism, homophobia and conspiracy theories. “Expressing such extreme racism online can lead to radicalisation and terrorism,” he said.

“During lockdown, children were in their bedrooms with computers. In the classroom, such views could have been debunked easily. We should never be afraid to talk it out when it comes to extremism.”

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