Two years ago, he and Mary Beth gave no thought to the possibility that their fourth child might be a 9/11 baby. But Kirsten's early arrival has recast the anniversary for them.

"It's her birthday now. I'm not going to be as glum, I don't think," he said. "There will always be a sadness, but Kirsten's sort of changed that around."

Keeping the memory alive

Kitty McNeal, now in her mid-70s, goes to Mass on Sept. 11 and visits her son's grave. Like her daughter and son-in-law, she has traveled to New York a couple times for the memorial ceremony at Ground Zero.

She has difficulty discussing her son's death. The tears come quickly. But she is clearly proud of the annual golf outing and the Loyola scholarship that bear her son's name. The $250,000 endowment exceeds the original goal. It's also important to her that Georgetown's McDonough School of Business named a room for him.

As much as she clings to the tangible reminders — the glasses, the answering machine message, the portrait — she wants people to know what kind of person her son was.

"Through our friends and relatives, we've kept everything alive," she says.

She leaves open the possibility that the attacks that stole the life of her son and so many others will somehow lead to some good.

"Hopefully," she says, "we'll come out a better people."

scott.calvert@baltsun.com

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