More than A Number: 911, Section 64, #4653
There are still a lot of things I’d like to ask him and tell him. I felt as if I was just growing old enough to be able to have a real adult conversation with Cole, and then he was gone. The last time I saw him, August of 2001, he came down to visit me at Governor’s Honors’ in Valdosta, Georgia. He had gone to college at Valdosta State, and I was there for the summer studying Biology and Jazz piano for a couple of weeks.
We had a conversation about college, which was very important to him. He wanted to help me to go to college if I needed it. I learned that he liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I was surprised by that, for some reason–probably because I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I had no inkling that he and I would be into the same music. I guess that is part of what I mean by saying that “I felt as if I were just growing old enough to have a real adult conversation with Cole…,” to know him in a new way.
We went running together, and that is the last clear memory I have. I apologized for being slow because I’d already been swimming a lot earlier in the day. But, really, we all knew I’d run a lot slower than Cole even if I’d just woken up from a long night’s rest. He was just always in excellent shape and could kick my butt any day.
I made a lot of artwork involving his death at the Pentagon during my years in graduate school. It was informed by my experience, but more about larger political issues. I even tried to install a sculpture as a “grief object” at the Pentagon memorial a couple of years ago, but they made me take it away because it was “too large” and made them nervous. I guess I should have just left flowers like everybody else, but I kind of hate flowers picked from their life to sit at someone’s grave or memorial.
I left some prints at his grave to show him what I’d been up to, I guess. I made monotypes to shadow his grave stone. I wanted to install something since the sculpture at the Pentagon Memorial didn’t work out. It did make me feel good to leave something there, although I cannot explain why. I know it must have just gotten shoved into some trash receptacle later that week.
In any case, I’m glad Aunt Pe is happily remarried now to the incredibly wonderful Mike. And I’m happy that so many people remember Uncle Cole fondly. So much of my daily existence is filled with memories of his advice such as, “Never walk by a water fountain without taking a drink. Your body is always thirsty,” “Study Hard and Run Every Day,” and “Eat to Run. Don’t Run to Eat.” I wish every day that I’d just had a few more years with him so that I could have known him in a new way, from an older perspective, and I would love for him to have met my husband, Blake.
My grandmother Jane always says that people ask her if this day is hard for her, the day she lost her son. She says that every day is hard. It doesn’t make a difference which day it is because he is gone on all of them. Last year on the 11th, we all went up to Washington State for the dedication of a Green Beret Memorial, partially in Cole’s honor. I’m eternally grateful for Mike rushing to pick me up at the airport at the last minute. I made the ceremony thanks to him. And grandma said that’s the last plane trip she plans to take, which is a bit sad. But I’m glad I could be there, at least, to hold her hand and then have a drink with her on the plane ride back to Georgia.
KatySeptember 10, 2012
Hannah, This is a beautiful tribute to Cole. I wish I had known him.
originaltitleSeptember 11, 2012
This is such a heartfelt memorial to your Uncle Cole. I can only imagine that many people are feeling this way today, mourning the loss of loved ones. My heart goes out to you in this difficult time. I’m glad you can remember the good things about your Uncle Cole today.
Meg campbellSeptember 11, 2012
Hi Han: Love you; it is a beautiful tribute. I’ll see if Grandma wants to come over and look at it. Mom
Hannah & Blake SandersSeptember 11, 2012
Thanks, Mom. Hope y’all are doing well today. I know grandma gets a lot of calls today so I will probably call her tomorrow.
patSeptember 11, 2012
I remembered when Cole first told me about you… he was so proud… and I was more nervous at meeting you than I was with the rest of the family… you were his Hannah and I wanted you to like me. Cole would not have missed that weekend in August with you… I remember it was during a very hectic time with his new job, and it was going to a very short trip, to see you… he would not have missed it. He was so excited that you were going to be at his Alma Mater. He would be so proud of you Hannah, you have accomplished what he wanted you to and so much more. He would love Blake too, although, he would convince Blake to make non fat pie crust and band the use of butter in all recipes! There is not a day that i do not think of him, I always smile when I think of his quirky sayings and exercise routines :) Your uncle was an incredible man Hannah…so full of life and love.
Hannah & Blake SandersSeptember 11, 2012
Thanks so much Pat. I’m just so glad he found you and brought you into our family! And that now we have Mike, too! Love you guys
Bonnie SchubertSeptember 11, 2012
Your tribute to Cole brought tears to my eyes. You did a beautiful job. I enjoyed reminiscing over the photos.too. He was so handsome! It is still so hard to believe he is gone. He was a wonderful person and loved his family. We will never know America as we did after that day I hope you and you husband are doing well.Thank you for sharing. I will pass this on to other family members. Lots of love. Hugs, your cousin, Bonnie Rice Schubert
Revel Wylly PogueSeptember 11, 2012
What a wonderful tribute! I met Cole a few times at Hogan gatherings and always enjoyed seeing him. Please give my love to your family- Revel Wylly Pogue
Hannah & Blake SandersSeptember 11, 2012
Thanks for the comments, everyone. I really appreciate it. For years I didn’t want to address my experience too publicly because I feel that it’s a hard day for everyone. After working through research and “creative nonfiction” writing (a made-up field I enjoy combining elements of dream, memory, reality and intense research) with aspects of that day and everything that came before and followed in my artwork and coming out the other side, I feel I am able to be more open about my experience. And I want to keep the memories alive so that I can pass on some of the wonder of who he was to our future family members who never had the opportunity to know him.
Becky PosnakSeptember 11, 2012
Hannah, your tribute to your Uncle Cole is wonderful. I only met him once, during the time your mom and I shared the space on Napier Avenue. He had the bluest, the most intense eyes. I also remember your mom telling me that he was the only one she would trust to take you into the ocean. Love, Becky
Dave KramerSeptember 11, 2012
I wish I had found this site earlier. I have many of the same photos you show in this site on my desktop hard drive. Images of the challange coins I have left on Cole’s marker for several years, or the flowers which commemorated his life at my local church the Sunday prior to Septewmber 11th each year. I was a co-worker of Cole’s at the Pentagon and am lucky enough to consider myself a friend. I was in his office with him moments before the plane entered the building. We were seperated by no more than 50 feet, yet I’m the one showing his photograph to the local high school students each September when I speak to their history class. I’d love to share my presentation, which features Cole prominently, with you. Cole was an amazing man and, despite beign several years older then him, I too wish that I had a few more moments in which to glean wisdom from him. De Oppresso Liber, Cole!
PatriciaSeptember 11, 2012
God Bless you and your family…What a wonderful niece you are and your uncle would be so proud of you.
Marion Lee CampbellSeptember 12, 2012
This is such a nice tribute. Thanks for posting it. Cole left a mark on many lives and many of the people closest to me lost something big from his death. I still find myself trying to tell people how wonderful he was and how much of a loss this was to even people who did not know him. Family lost him, friends lost him, and the country lost him.
Larry A WilliamsSeptember 12, 2012
Great tribute, Hannah! Cole did have some varied musical tastes. I always remember when he brought his own boom box to the gym to play AC/DC for our workout.Before that I was giving him a hard time about his love for beach music.
Hannah & Blake SandersSeptember 12, 2012
Haha… Please tell me he liked Dick Dale.
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