Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

9/11: Not Forgotten~ Coach D

on September 13, 2013

9-11

One month after 9/11, I was scheduled to sing the National Anthem at an Anaheim Angels baseball game.

As I hob knobbed behind home plate, warming up my voice and shaking hands with people & players, I noticed a couple who was passing out buttons to people, cameramen, and Angel players.  I became curious as to what the buttons were all about, so I walked up to the couple and asked them about it.

It turned out that this couple had a daughter, who was a graduate student at Boston University.  The father went on to say that his daughter, Lisa Frost from Anaheim was on the way back to California from Boston when her plane crashed into the 2nd World Trade Center. They were placing buttons of their daughter on people to commemorate her life.

There was a 2nd button.  It was a picture of a Marine.  I asked Mr. Frost who it was.  He said it was Sgt. Stephen L. Bryson.  I asked who he was.  The dad said, “This man is my hero.”  “He was one of the first soldiers sent to Afghanistan and he died trying to kill the mother$%#@’s, that killed my daughter.”  His eyes started to well up.

Then Mrs. Frost, eyes full of tears began to tell me the story of Sgt. Bryson.  She said that Sgt. Bryson had recently had a little girl.  She was born 1 week after his death.

She went on to say that when she read about him in the paper, she felt the need to try to contact his widow, for she had lost a daughter, and the little baby lost a father.  She spoke with her on the phone. As they talked they found out that they lived only 3 blocks away from each other!

Now they see Mrs. Bryson and the baby all the time, and have actually “adopted” her and the child as their “Family.”

I was frozen for a moment for I wasn’t expecting to hear this type of story minutes before singing the anthem in front of 55,000 people.

Finally I found the courage to ask another question.  “I’m I father of a 9 year old daughter.  She’s right there preparing to videotape my rendition of the Anthem.” “Do you have any advice for me?”  Mr. Frost called my daughter over and introduced himself.  Then he looked up at me, grabbed my shirt and said, “LOVE HER!” Then he began shaking me and repeating those words over and over again, “LOVE HER….LOVE HER…!” I said, “OK.”

I asked Mrs. Frost if it would be ok to wear the buttons of Lisa and Sgt. Bryson when I sang the anthem.  She looked at me…. didn’t say a word.  Then she began to pin the buttons, side by side, over my heart. Tears of pride streamed down her cheeks.  She patted me on the shoulder and said, “Break a leg.”

I needed to hear that, for I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t think I could regain my poise to sing. That brought a smile to my face.

I asked them if I could dedicate my rendition of the anthem to Lisa and Sgt. Bryson. They couldn’t answer me.  They just cried and nodded “yes”.

As the public address announcer called out my name, “Coach D”, I never felt prouder to be an American.

After the rendition, I immediately went over to my daughter, who was standing a few feet in front of me with the video camera. I hugged her, and told her, “I LOVE YOU!”

Mr. Frost just nodded and smiled.

As I look back on that moment I sometimes think about the fact that 55,000 people were at that game.  Yet no one knew this story was taking place right in front of them.

There are other stories.

 I ask that you not forget the Lisa Frost/ Sgt. Bryson story.

A follow up to Mr. and Mrs. Frost’s story:

Unfortunately, a few years after 9-11, Mrs. Frost went into a deep depression, began taking heavy prescription drugs and alcohol.  Mr. and Mrs. Frost divorced, yet remain friends.  A couple of years ago Mr. Frost stopped by her house to drop off some food and found her unconscious in her swimming pool. Thankfully, he got there in time and was able to save her…

Losing a child…one is never quite the same…

Coach DGlenn Dumas, “Coach D”, is a Career and Technical Education instructor that teaches Computers, Retail Marketing and Careers. He has been teaching for 16 years.  “Coach D” also has an educational CD called “Winning with Times Tables”, where he teaches kids their multiplication tables through music.


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