The list of those killed at the World Trade Center includes three men named Michael Lynch. Two of them were Irish-American firefighters who also shared the middle name Francis.
One was Big Mike: six-foot-five, dark-haired, blue-eyed, and (according to girls who knew him at St. Michael’s in Flushing) drop-dead gorgeous. Among the guys at Ladder 4 in midtown, he was sometimes known as Prancer for the way he leapt about when a bell rang. He died helping to extricate people trapped in an elevator in the South Tower’s lobby; his body was eventually recovered from the bottom of the shaft.
Another was called the Peacemaker; a small, wiry kid, afraid to take even a bath for fear of jellyfish, he was the one who doused arguments in his large Throgs Neck family. He must have overcome his dread of water because he grew up to enjoy fishing and scuba diving—and life among the “Gun Hill Gang” of Ladder 32 in the Bronx. His body, found sheltering the remains of a female victim, was identified by the green Celtic cross tattooed on his left shoulder.
And then there was Michael Cameron Lynch, known as Morty: a broker at Cantor Fitzgerald. Six-foot-eight and basketball-mad, he had begun his day with a 6:30 game at Chelsea Piers.
Morty, 34, had a wife and toddler daughter. Big Mike, 33, had a wife and two sons. The Peacemaker, 30, was engaged to be married on November 16; he had sixteen nieces and nephews.
Whether the tragedy moves from the personal to the collective or from the collective to the personal—from one to 2,753 or the other way around—depends on your perspective. Either way, it is both heightened and diminished. Three Michael Lynches died. But so did Big Mike, the Peacemaker, and Morty.