I have given much thought about what I want to say tonight - seeing all of you together makes this more than just a room, more than just another fundraiser. Believe me, I've attended many and I know the difference - and there is a difference. Because we are different!
So many years ago, too many years ago, we experienced a horror that hopefully will never happen again - and if it never happens again it will be largely due to our experience. The horror was shared world-wide - just look at our website and you will agree with me, that almost everyone shared in our sadness.
It's true, the compassion was there - but the real emotions, the real trauma we kept to ourselves - with ourselves, among ourselves- and that is precisely what makes our group so unique, so different and so wonderful!
Although there is and always will be an underlying sadness to each of us, individually and as a whole -- there is something special, something wonderful, too. It's a oneness that makes us family, it's the bond that keeps us together regardless of time and distance. It's what brought each of us here tonight.
I have been given the honor of presenting another special bright young man with our James Raymond scholarship award. Although nominal in its total sum, this particular scholarship brings much more to you, Dan, than just money. You see, it's our way of returning the love - the love, the courage and the strength given to us by the firemen who came to our rescue so many years ago. Dan's grandfather, Tom Power, was one of those firemen. He came to our aid - we don't know how many lives he saved, we don't know what he witnessed, how it stayed with him through the years and how it affected his own personal life. But I'm sure his wife, (Dan's grandmother), Mrs. Betti power, who is here with us tonight, could tell us some stories. Together Mr. And Mrs. Power attended several of our memorial masses. Firefighter Tom Power is no longer with us, he has joined our "angels" -- so we can't talk to him, but what we do know is that Tom Power helped and now it's our turn to help.
This small gift to Dan is also made in honor of another hero, Jim Raymond - better known as "Mr. Raymond", the man with the cap who you could almost always find doing something around our school to make it better - keeping it clean, taking care of this or that. He was a real presence to all of us, and was more than just a janitor/custodian. He "took care" of the school and always had a watchful eye on us - I honestly think he thought of us all as "his" children. That's why it came as no surprise to "we who know", that he was a hero that day. He saved lives - many lives - right along with the firemen. He came to our rescue. He was a great man -- he left a great legacy as you can see by his proud children and grandchildren sitting here with us tonight. We won't forget, and we thank you.
It is with great pride that I now present the James Raymond scholarship award to Dan Bowery, a Junior at St. Pat's High School, vice president of his class, a member of the academic team, the liturgy team, the school paper staff. Dan attended World Youth Day in Germany last summer, and this summer has been invited to attend the National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. I'm sure he will make us proud as he continues to bring pride to his Mom, Mrs. Bowery, and his brother Patrick, his sister Maureen, and his grandmother, Betti.
And I am certain his Gramps, Tom Power, stands beside Mr. Raymond tonight, leading the cheers in heaven for his grandson, Daniel Bowery - and for all of us.