Former Cornell Lacrosse Star Honored
IITHACA, N.Y. (AP) - Seven months after Eamon McEneaney was killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Cornell University retired the No. 10 that he wore with such distinction on the lacrosse field.
In a ceremony Saturday at Schoellkopf Field, the three-time first-team All-American, who led the Big Red to undefeated seasons and national titles in 1976 and 1977, was honored for his tenacity on the field and the love he displayed in his private life.
"As I have reflected on the unthinkable event that occurred, I've realized that when Eamon's life and the lives of all the others were taken that were with him, potentially millions of lives were saved," Bonnie McEneaney said in a tribute to her husband as their four children looking on.
"Eamon would be very, very proud. If we continue to display the type of love that flowed so powerfully after 9-11, then the light of Eamon will live on and we will be victorious. The compassion, the determination, the patriotism and the resolve that we feel as Americans - that is what Eamon would want his legacy to be."
McEneaney's 9-year-old daughter, Jennifer, read a poem she wrote about her father, and 6-year-old Kevin recited a prayer he had written.
"My dad was Eamon McEneaney, and he was loving. He wouldn't harm a bee," Kevin said. "He wouldn't harm anything, but he didn't like anything that harmed. He had a great heart, and we wish he was here. But he's still here in our hearts."
The ceremony, which came 25 years after McEneaney led Cornell to its second straight championship, was attended by hundreds of people, including 23 of McEneaney's former teammates, most of whom were wearing honorary red t-shirts emblazoned with a phrase he once penned: "Devotion is love, for if you allocate your time to the things that are most important to you, then you love them and you will succeed."
McEneaney, a star at Sewanhaka High School on Long Island before attending Cornell, remains the career leader in assists at Cornell with 164 and is second in points with 256 - behind only Mike French, his teammate for two seasons. McEneaney also lettered twice in football as a receiver and even earned a tryout with the New York Jets despite weighing only 165 pounds.
After graduation, McEneaney, who ran five miles before the 1977 championship win over Johns Hopkins just to stay calm, briefly coached lacrosse at Syracuse and eventually found his way to Wall Street.
He was a partner and vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices were on the top floors of the World Trade Center. At age 47 and financially secure, McEneaney died just six months before he had planned to begin doing his financial work at his Connecticut home so that he could concentrate more on writing.
"We'll never forget No. 10," his former coach, Richie Moran, said. "He had a heart the size of his chest."
French was the only teammate to speak. He struggled through it.
"He was the best," French said. "He was the most unselfish player and person I ever met. He was tenacious, devoted to his teammates. Everybody has a piece of him out here because everybody's his friend."
"We were praying (Sept. 11). We were hoping. If anybody can get out of that building, it would be Eamon. But Eamon would be looking after everybody else. That was the story of his life."
In 1993, during the first attack on the World Trade Center, McEneaney formed a human chain and led 65 people to safety through smoke-filled stairwells from the 105th floor.
"I want you to remember something Eamon always preached to me," Bonnie McEneaney said. "Every hour, every minute, every second of your lives is a precious gift. Don't put off too long those things that you want to do. Make sure your priorities are correct and realize what is really important with your life now. Every single day, celebrate life. And may the light of Eamon always live on in our hearts."
McEneaney's teammates also are helping to raise $250,000 to fund the Eamon McEneaney Professorship of Irish Literature and Culture.
He became a legend for the way he played the sport of lacrosse, but Cornell's Eamon McEneaney's impact as a person was far greater than that as a player.
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