Thomas Heidenburger remembers his wife, Michele, at the Pentagon
Thomas Heidenberger often visits the Sept. 11 memorial at the Pentagon in the evening. At that time, the sun sets over the benches dedicated to the 184 victims that died there 10 years ago.
"The day just seems like it was yesterday," he says.
One of them belongs to his wife of nearly 30 years; his "partner, best friend and lover," Michele.
"When I come here, obviously, I think of Michele," Heidenberger, a retired U.S. Airways pilot, says. "I truthfully reminisce about the good days, the life we had. I also essentially say, 'Michele, you'd be proud of the kids."
Michele was the lead flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. The ten years that she has been gone have been difficult for him and his children, who were 14 and 20 years old on Sept. 11.
"I've had to go through a high school graduation, two college graduations and the wedding of my daughter," Heidenberger says. He also welcomed his first grandchild into the world since then - who was born on September 10.
"(My daughter) says, 'Dad, this has got mom written all over it,'" he says.
At the memorial, Michele's bench sits right next to the one memorializing the captain of Flight 77, Charles Burlingame. In a sense, the captain is still looking over his flight crew.
"It was a special moment for me from a professional standpoint, but at the same time, it had meaning where there is a protector," Heidenberger says.
On the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11, Heidenberger remembers Michelle with his children as a beloved wife and mother, and there's only one place to do that.
"Right here, next to the Pentagon," he says. "We'll never forget."
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