KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A total of 2,977 people died on Sept. 11, 2001.
A death toll is a number, a figure, but every person is more than a statistic.
Six of them had ties to the Kansas City community.
Denease Conley went to high school in the City of Fountains. She spent four years in the U.S. Navy and passed the qualifying exam to become a New York City firefighter.
She died at the World Trade Center, where she worked as a security guard.
Randy Drake was the pride of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and one of 13 kids. His family said he loved to be active, on the golf course, or in a boat, fishing.
He was on assignment in New York’s financial district when he was hit by debris from United Air 175.
Julie Geis worked for Aon Consulting in Kansas City, climbing the ranks to become a senior vice president. Before that, she was captain of Nebraska’s softball team.
She was working on the South Tower’s 102nd floor 20 years ago. Cornhuskers Softball now awards a memorial scholarship, in her name, every year.
Ronald Hemenway, 1st class petty officer of the U.S. Navy, worked for the Chief of Navy Operations in the Pentagon. The Purple Heart recipient had been in the Navy since before his 30th birthday.
He is buried at Arlington.
Lacey Ivory rests at Arlington, too.
The Kansas City native was also a Purple Heart recipient and a Sargent Major in the United States Army. His wife once said, he loved wearing a uniform.
Gregg Smallwood’s parents call Overland Park home. He became a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, with more than a dozen awards in decorations.
He served at the Pentagon, in the Office of the Chief Information Systems Technician.
These are six stories, six of many. They leave behind loved ones, who don’t just grieve on an anniversary.