9/11 – If Only In Their Dreams

September 11, 2011

Back in 2006, when I was pregnant with Carter – I would blog to relax.   I was asked by one of my blog friends to view/read about Project 2996.  Once I read about the project, I thought it was a wonderful idea and I had to join.  So, I emailed Project 2996 and requested a name from the 2996.  Not to long after – I received a name.  Little did I know how much this project would touch me.

William E. Caswell

I have read and read and read about him. I have worried myself to death about what exactly I was going to write about someone I really didn’t know. I had no clue how to put my words into text.  I struggled and struggled.  This past Wednesday I finally found the words – well, they found me in my dreams…

I sat in the fog outside a little cafe off of a stone street that looked like what one would see in a painting. You know – the paintings with the little cafe, people sipping on their coffee as the water colored blob people walk down the street going into little shops along the way. It seemed I knew where I was and that I knew who I was waiting for, although I really felt I had no clue (does that make since?)  Out of the cafe came a handsome man. Salt and pepper hair, glasses and a stature of brilliance gleaming around him. I stood up and waved as if I knew him.  He didn’t hesitate; he waved back and started walking my way.

I said something of the sort “Thank you for coming. I am so excited to finally meet you. I feel as though I already know you.”

He smiled with a little goofy grin and said “I enjoy having visitors.”

As I took a drink of my coffee I looked at him.  He had a look on his face as if he had so much to tell me but didn’t know how.

I asked “What is on your mind?” as I sat my coffee on the table.

“My life, my life” He whispered.

“What about your life?” I curiously asked.

He looked me dead in the eye and a chill came over me as he softly replied “Did I make them proud?”

“Who Proud?”

“Them.” He blankly stared.

“Yes, you should read everything that has been written about you, my friend. Your family and friends have made it well known what a brilliant, funny, loving man you were. That is why I just had to meet you. You were amazing.” I quickly responded.

He leaned back in his chair and spoke with every bit of dignity he could manage to come out through the tears in his voice “My dear, they are the ones that are amazing. My mother, my father, my sister, my wife, my step-son, my daughter. My entire family – my friends are the ones who are amazing for letting my legacy live on. I have never been so humbled as I am each time I hear any words being uttered about me through them. They have not forgotten – they have not forgotten me.”

I didn’t know what to say except “No one will ever forget. No one that loves you or ever came in contact with you will ever forget”

With that being said, he and I both stood up and leaned in over the table as if we were going to hug each other.  I heard a faint whisper echo “I enjoy having visitors… if only in their dreams.”

I suddenly awoke  crying and confused.  I realized through my dream –  I met him.

Maybe my dream was just a fluke because I have been thinking about this man I didn’t know for over 2 months now.  Maybe it is because of the baby within me is making me have crazy dreams. Maybe he just wanted me to visit him. Whatever the reasoning behind our encounter –  I’m honored.

 William E. Caswell

William (Bill to his friends and family) was a third-generation physicist. He worked for the US Navy as a senior scientist. He received several navy commendations on his work, one of which cites his role in a “highly successful top priority Chief of Naval operations project of unprecedented technological complexity – developing a profoundly new capability for the US Navy.

” His work with the Navy was so classified that half the time his family knew very little about his job. His family didn’t know exactly why he was headed to Los Angeles on the American Airline Flight 77 on September 11. His mother stated “It was a trip he often took. We never knew what he was doing there because he couldn’t say. You just learn not to ask questions.”

One of the most interesting facts I read of William was from Physics Today

Bill was born on 22 June 1947 in Boston.  He received both of his degrees in physics: his BS from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1968 and his PhD from Princeton University in 1975.  Bill’s thesis contained the first calculation of higher-order renormalization group quantities in non-abelian gauge theory. He was a third-generation physicist: His grandfather, Albert, received one of the first PhDs in physics from Stanford University, and his father, Randall, held an MIT physics PhD.

William came from a long line of genius.

Putting aside his career, he was a beloved son, brother, husband, father and friend. From everything I read, before he parrished, he and his daughter, Jennifer who was 17 at the time of his death, were looking into colleges for her. She too, was headed in the same direction as her father in the world of science. Her education was one of his top priorities.

His wife Jean, step-son Sean, his mother Jean and father Randall, his sister Julia, and his brilliant daughter Jennifer… were a very warm and close-knit family. Every word I have read of him makes me long to have known him.

“He loved everything about life. He played pool and Go and bridge and racquetball, and tennis with [daughter] Jennifer. He liked folk dancing, too. That’s how we met.” — Jean Caswell, wife

“He was happy, very happy in this world. It is a shame to lose him,” said his father, Randall Caswell, 77.

This brilliant, humble, family man past from us on 9/11/2001 aboard American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into The Pentagon.

At a Memorial event in Rockville, Maryland, William’s sister, Julia, brilliantly stated “He was a bright star…”

Thank you, William –  for letting me get to know you and seeing a glimpse of the “bright star” you were  – if only in my dreams.


Time Line for American Airlines Flight 77

Memorial Book for William

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