My first cousin, Eileen Keegan Rice, 57, died in the World Trade Center. She worked for Marsh McLennan and lived in Brooklyn. The following is the eulogy I delivered at the memorial Mass at St. Anselm’s Church in Brooklyn on Oct. 6, 2001.
The president, the pope, prime ministers, kings, queens and politicians spoke words of comfort and solace after the terrorists’ attack of Sept. 11 on the World Trade Center. Indeed, we needed to hear their words. When they were done, I was left with many questions but one, almost childlike question for the terrorists, “Why do you hate us?”
Some of you lived among us for years but you did not know us. Perhaps you sat next to my cousin Eileen on a subway car traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan. She was a stunning woman, always well dressed and fastidious about her appearance.
If you had spoken to her, you might have learned that her mother, Cath Molloy, and my mother, Rose Molloy, left their native Scotland in the 1920s and immigrated to this great country. They adopted this land as their own, worked hard and became successful.
You might also have learned that her father, Bill Keegan, came to the states as a young man and during World War II almost lost his life when his ship was torpedoed in the Pacific. Her brother, Francis, was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the life of a fellow soldier during the Vietnam War. Patrick, her older brother, was halfway around the world in Tahiti when he learned of her death.
Why do you hate us? Eileen had two children, Brian and Leslie. Eileen and Brian would come often to upstate New York to attend the Scottish Games or spend a winter weekend sleigh riding or building snow forts. Leslie is pursuing a college degree. Now, they are without her guidance and support.
Why do you hate us? You lived among us, but you learned nothing about what a great, tolerant, loving people we are. On the weekends, did you see women, men and children going to their temples, churches or mosques to worship their God? Did you see others choosing instead to go to a ball game or have a family picnic?
In your travels through this beautiful land did you see waves break on the rocky coast of Maine, the sun set at Cape Cod or the brilliant fall colors in the Catskill Mountains? Did you see the wheat fields of Iowa, the Great Plains, the snow-capped Rocky Mountains or the sun set on San Francisco Bay? Why do you hate us?
As we gather today in the beautiful church to celebrate Eileen Keegan Rice’s life, please know this: We love this woman, mother, sister, relative and friend, and our love is stronger and deeper than your hate. In confidence we know that our love will overcome your hate.
-Margaret ‘Midge’ Launsbach, Scotia
More Remembrances: We remember; The Daily Gazette’s special Sept. 11 anniversary section