The World of Grandpa Don

Making a Difference
On 9/11/2003 this message was posted in the guest book of the St. Julie Billiart web site.

After September 11, 2001, I attended a mass at St. Julie on a Sunday where prayer cards that had been made by the children of St. Julie were distributed in honor of the victims of that tragic day. The children had made one card for each victim – no small task by any means. The card I received bears the name Robert Penniger. The child who made the card highlighted his name and drew a bright red and blue American Flag on it. I smile at the child’s handwriting that reflects his name. Robert Penniger.

I did not know Robert Penniger; our paths never crossed until I received his prayer card. I do not know if he worked at the World Trade Center, or if he was an emergency personnel, or if he worked at the Pentagon, or if the was on the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field. I do not know how he made a living, nor do I know his race, creed or religion. I do not know what he looked like, or what his personality was.

What I do know about Robert Penniger is that he was killed on September 11. I know that because of the senseless acts of terrorism on that day, he is no longer on this earth to make a difference. So, I keep that prayer card on my refrigerator to remind myself that through me, Robert Penniger can still make a difference. I touch that card sometimes, and I talk to him. I say “Robert, today I am going to do something good for somebody else, and I’m going to do it because of you.”

Even though the tragedies of this day did not directly affect me, the magnitude of this day affects all of us. More importantly, we must realize that we can all do something to ensure that the victims of the attacks did not die in vain. I believe it to be our duty, our responsibility and our obligation to honor the victims of this day, even in the smallest way. So, I try to do something good for somebody else in honor of Robert Penniger. And when I am thanked for my kindness, I whisper his name to myself.

“Robert Penniger. You have made a difference today.”

Amanda Browne
Wheaton, IL

Do you know Robert Penninger? If so, let his family know that he has made a difference. Amanda also makes a difference. Pat Kmak and the staff of St Julie's Religious Education program make a difference.  And the children who created the cards have made a difference.

Every good deed, thoughtful smile, and encouraging comment makes a difference because like a stone dropped into a lake, it ripples through, ...  gently caressing everything it touches. Your simple act of kindness can change the world.

Thank you Amanda for taking the time to post your beautiful message in the St. Julie Guestbook. Thank you for making a difference. You give us courage.

Don Plefka


September 11, 2001

A Memorial

This event in the history of the world is so momentous and important that it needs a special page on this web site. Some of what is found here  is shared from other sources and some is the result of my thoughts inspired by the events and their aftermath.

Making a Difference

The World of Grandpa Don 

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