At midnight every September 11, Elsie Clark hangs a banner on the fence alongside the front-yard memorial to the 39-year-old son who perished at the World Trade Center.
“In Loving Memory
Benjamin Keefe Clark
Benjamin Clark remained in the South Tower of the World Trade Center helping countless to safety.
The son was not a firefighter or a police officer.
He was a chef.
But a morning that began with him preparing meals for the people at the Fiduciary Trust Company suddenly led to him becoming as brave as any first responder. A Fiduciary official would later credit Clark with saving hundreds of lives as he made sure that everyone in his department along with everybody else in the company’s 96th floor offices in the South Tower was safely exiting the building.
He then paused on the 78th floor to assist a woman in a wheelchair.
“He could have gotten out,” his mother says. “Everybody else did.”
The mother would ascribe some of his courage to him having been a Marine for eight years.
“My son was a Marine, so you know he wasn’t going to leave anybody behind,” she says.
More than a Marine, he was Benjamin Clark, since his earliest years ever ready to lend a hand to whoever might need it. He had only to see a neighbor in need of assistance big or small and he would exclaim, “I’ll help! I’ll help!”
“He was always there to help,” his mother says.
Upon seeing others suddenly in the most mortal danger, his everyday decency had become uncommon courage. A chef known for his fabulous meatloaf and for remembering everybody’s name and favorite meals had proven as courageous as if he had stepped off an FDNY rig.
“A hero,” his mother says. “My hero.”
And it does not detract in any way from the bravery of the first responders to say that there were numerous courageous civilians in the towers.
“There were a lot of heroes that day,” Elsie Clark says.
Read more at THE DAILY BEAST.