In memory of Peter Mark Gyulavary, 44, victim of the September 11th attacks.
A little over a year ago, me and my family moved out to a rundown house in the forest, far from the city that we had grown used to. The house wasn’t livable, at first, and needed massive work. But we were determined to make it our home—and a nice home—because we wanted to rebuild our life in an area that is safe. Or at the very least, safer.
You see, in 2001, two things happened to make me and my husband re-think how we were living, where we were living, and how we would want our children to grow up. The first was the April riots in Cincinnati, Ohio following the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old black male, Timothy Thomas, by a white police officer. The second was September 11th. Both events shook us, shook our foundation. We decided, at that time, that we would find a way to escape the urban violence. To rebuild somewhere else.
Don’t get me wrong, we understand the lure of the big city. How the city hums with activity and thought, and you can get coffee or beer late at night and hear jazz playing on the corner.
Peter Mark Gyulavary understood this too. Peter grew up in Geelong, Victoria, Australia and moved to New York City and married an American wife. According to Paul, Peter’s twin brother, Peter always described New York as a place of extremes. I understand what he was saying. If you’ve ever visited New York, you’d know too. That is perhaps what lured Peter to make his home there.
Peter wasn’t content to just make his home in New York, he wanted to rebuild—to make homes better. Peter and his wife, Jane, restored a Victorian house in Warwick, NY. In order to be closer to the city, they purchased a condominium in Weehawken, N.J., and Peter began refurbishing an apartment in Manhattan.
Peter worked on many building and rebuilding projects in the public sector as well. His curriculum vitae is impressive. Peter’s final position as environmental engineer for Washington Group International had him working on light rail projects. He worked from the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Peter was working on a big project on the morning of September 11, 2001. When a plane hit the North tower, he, like so many other people, started to evacuate the building. He even called his wife. But he was sure that he was safe. He went back to work, even when his wife told him to leave.
He was last seen on the 78th floor minutes before the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
His body was recovered in the wreckage of the buildings, and is now buried in Warwick, NY. His twin brother, Paul, was in attendance.
There are many things we can do to remember Peter: We can eat at Outback Steakhouse and drink Fosters beer. We can wear yellow and gold in honor of his homeland. We can walk and do things backward in order to “put the evil behind us,” as his brother puts it. We can point to Australia on the map and say “That’s were Peter was from.”
But I don’t think that would be quite right. Peter liked America. He had rebuilt his life here. I think, in honor of Peter Mark Gyulavary, we should revel in our American culture and spirit.
When I get home from work on September 11th 2006, five years after the tragic event that took Peter’s life, I will drink Pete’s Wicked Ale, read Psalm 91, and listen to Bob Dylan’s song, “Forever Young”. And I’ll continue to rebuild our Creekistan home, and I will teach my children that although terrible things happen, we need to look forward to the future and rebuild.
Peter worked on the 91st floor of the South Tower. Psalm 91 is especially symbolic
The Bob Dylan song, “Forever Young” was dedicated to Peter at his memorial service.