“It is too sad to think about.”
— Zachary Zion
“It is a feeling of being alone.”
— Barbara Zion Green
Zachary Zion was the son of Chuck Zion.
Barbara Zion Green was the sister of Chuck Zion.
Chuck Zion was lost in the World Trade Center nightmare 10 years ago today. He grew up here into his high school years at Davenport Central.
Barbara Zion Green grew up in Davenport until her teenage years.
Zachary and Barbara now live in New York City.
I SEARCHED out Zach and Barbara. It was difficult to visit on such a grim subject as the loss of their dad and brother, respectively. How does one even bring up the horror?
Zachary, who never lived in Davenport, returned my phone call. He was courteous and anticipated what I wanted.
“You are kind to call, but I don’t have much to say.” There’s a pause when his father is mentioned. “It is too sad to think about. To think about it is difficult.” Pause. “Thanks for calling.”
That was it, but I kept talking, mentioning his grandfather and grandmother, Rabbi Martin Zion and his wife, Jane. Martin was rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Davenport for a dozen years when Chuck and Barbara were growing up in a big house at 26 Hillcrest.
“I will not be in New York on the day of 9/11,” Zach said. “I wanted to be away from the media and the newspapers.” Once, on an anniversary of the tragedy, he was interviewed on CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes.”
Zach is in the investment business in New York City and can see today’s World Trade Center memorial location from his apartment. He never has been to the site.
“I’m leaving tomorrow for Colorado,” he said one day last week. Pause. “I don’t want to be around New York City on the day. I want to be in Colorado.” He graduated from the University of Colorado and wanted his personal peace, away from a nation’s mourning.
“I wish you the best,” he said to me. Pause. “I suggest that you call my Aunt Barbara. Goodbye.”
AND SO I CALLED Barbara, whose husband is a retired psychiatrist. Her memories of 9/11 are intensely recalled. “On Sept. 7, just a few days before 9/11, my daughter, Rachel, was married in New York City. My father officiated at the wedding. All the family was here. My brother Chuck and I danced together. A last dance.”
It was fate that all of the family should be together at a time when the tragedy was so near.
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Chuck’s office was on the 104th floor of Tower One. He was 54, a major executive with Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond brokerage firm that lost 658 employees in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the highest loss of life for any one company that day.
“When we heard of the Trade Center being hit, we couldn’t believe it,” Barbara says. “This was not something to happen. We first thought it was a mistake. My parents were staying with us after the wedding, and we quickly called Chuck’s office. No answer. We were terribly worried. We kept thinking, ‘Where is he?’
“My parents spent that terrible first day on couches. It was three days before we finally believed that Chuck was gone.
“My only sibling was dead. It was horrific. It was draining. We held each other up.”
I AWKWARDLY asked Barbara for thoughts of her brother on the 10th anniversary.
It was an uncomfortable moment. She said:
“It is a feeling of being alone.”
Bill Wundram can be contacted at (563) 383-2249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.