Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
The death of David Tengelin on Sept. 11 forever changed his brother’s life. Patric Tengelin, 27, was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, and today lives in London, where he is studying economics at Greenwich University. He has a mother, Britt Ehnar, father, Peter Tengelin, and sister, Petra Ehnar.
On Sept. 11, Patric was at work in Sweden. Inspired by his brother’s death, Patric has adopted the following motto: “When political systems clash like they did on September 11, innocent people pay the price. In stark contrast to the monstrous methods of the terrorists, my brother was an advocate of non-violence. He loved the cultural diversity of the Big Apple like I do the melting pot of London. David lived a rich life in a minimalist manner and he was a true global citizen. David died young, too young. He only lived to be 25 years. I have made it my mission to carry on my brother’s beliefs and not let up in the struggle to promote an open, democratic society.”
Patric wrote, “In Memory of My Brother” on Oct. 27; “In Remembrance of David Tengelin” on Nov. 23; and “Upon Reflection” on Feb. 5, 2002.
In Memory of My Brother, David
18.3.76 – 11.9.01
I remember it like it was yesterday even though this was twenty years ago now. David and I were all set to go on our very first moose hunt. It is an annual Swedish tradition that lasts for a couple of weeks each fall. Our mother had dressed us so that we would not get cold as it was rainy and miserable outside. I handed one of our wooden rifles to my brother and off we went. Some 100 yards from the house, we lay down behind a couple of trees, about 20 feet apart, and waited anxiously while taking aim at anything that moved.
It was not long before we started getting bored. But just as we were about to pack up and head back home we heard something that caught our attention. Lo and behold, it was a moose! This was the moment we had been gearing up for and we were both paralyzed. A great majestic moose came running through our backyard and my brother and I froze, unable to move as the enormous animal came trampling through the vegetation in our direction. Never had I been so scared in my whole life. We were right in its path and by now I was trembling with fear. When the moose had passed us, I looked up and saw the amazement and horror in my brother’s face.
We were unable to speak at that moment, but both of us got up at the same time and ran as fast as we could up to the house where mom was waiting for us. We were out of breath, but eager to tell our story. And the story is taken from the same spot in the woods, where we left our toy rifles in a hurry. We spent the rest of that day indoors, planning in detail and preparing mentally for the next time we would come eye to eye with a moose.
After September 11, 2001, there will never be a next time for my brother and I to set out on a moose hunt. But my memory of David will forever be as vivid and precious to me as the day when we went hunting for moose in our backyard.
“David, I will never forget and will always honor you.”
In Remembrance of David Tengelin
I was sitting in front of my computer and monitoring the movements in the stock market and trading whenever an opportunity would arise. It was ten minutes to three, local Swedish time, and it had been a quiet day when suddenly the market knee-jerked and stocks sold off across the board. But why? What had happened to cause this nosedive? Reports started coming in about a plane having hit the World Trade Center. My first reaction was one of concern as my brother worked on the 100th floor in one of the Twin Towers. As I went to switch on the TV, I kept thinking that it was probably a small private plane, and that it, like a sparrow that flies into a window, got squashed and fell helplessly to the ground. I knew that there would be casualties, but I hoped for no more than the unfortunate passengers who were seated in the plane.
When I saw the first pictures from New York I was absolutely horrified. Black smoke was billowing out of the top twenty floors in what seemed to be with increasing intensity. I just stood there in disbelief, unable to do anything. It was quickly brought home to me that it must have been a much larger plane than what I had initially pictured it to be. And then, out of nowhere, comes another commercial airliner and slams into the other tower. I froze and my jaw dropped. I could not believe what I had just witnessed. It was now beyond all doubt that this was an act of terror and I damned the terrorists.
After having watched the clip a couple more times, I began pacing back and forth, trying to remember in which of the towers my brother had his office. I clung to the hope that he worked in the second building that was hit. That would have given him fifteen minutes in which to react to the first airplane that hit the other building, run down the stairs and put himself in safety. It was agonizing watching both buildings on fire and not knowing whether David was trapped in the inferno.
I am David’s big brother and as such it is my duty to protect him. I would have done anything to save him, and not think twice about coming to his rescue. Now I could only watch the disaster unfold before my eyes on live television. As the first tower tumbled to the ground, I called my brother’s cell phone. The line was busy! That meant that he may be alive and that gave me a glimmer of hope. I called again. Still busy! He was probably on the phone to let everyone know that he was all right. My heart was racing and I was now more hopeful than disillusioned. I went back to watch the TV just in time to see the second tower fold and crumble. It was surreal. The next time I called, I got his voice mail. Maybe he had been asked to switch off his cell phone if he were in the hospital …
My life has changed in a profound way since September 11. I am no longer dedicating my life to financial markets, but to the people I love, especially my mother and my sister. I am currently studying economics at Greenwich University in London, England. Whenever I need motivation, I recall the last words my brother spoke to me, “Good luck in London, I know you’ll make it.” My brother and I always supported each other in every way possible. Much the same way my sister and I do now, and that I know David and Petra have always done. My mother has always been there for us and did a fantastic job in bringing us up. However, it is only now I realize how much her children mean to her as I see the pain and anguish in her face as she mourns the death of her son.
My brother has been my hero and the greatest source of inspiration ever since he left for America six years ago. He lived a rich life in a minimalist manner. He never complained although he had many worries. Like all of his colleagues, he had big dreams. Like David, most of them lost their lives to terrorism. Some people say that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. However, freedom will never be achieved through means of terror. My brother no longer harbors any worries but his dream still lives on. His dream was to live in a peaceful world without intolerance and wars. My dream is that of my brother’s, but my worries are that we may see a repeat of the atrocities committed on September 11, 2001.
My passion and love for people from other cultures and different religions have not dissipated since September 11. There is fundamentally nothing wrong with mankind. However, when political systems fight each other for superiority, innocent people are caught in the line of fire. In a sense, the hijackers of the jetliners were victims of their beliefs, targeted by a manipulative leader, and held hostage by their religious convictions. It is only when we bridge the gap that separates people who have been brought up in different parts of the world, with different values, that understanding and compassion can ultimately pave the way toward peace.
Terrorism must be rooted out. In order to defeat the adversary, our enemy has to be identified. Despite our differences, all people must have an equal say in world affairs. Democracy will only prevail after its opponents have engaged in dialogue. When everyone is incorporated into the global community, we will share common goals and joint responsibilities. That is how human dignity will be upheld and open society safeguarded. We all must be pro-active in preventing the next terrorist attack.