Looking back, looking forward

By Ashley Luthern



John Koborie sits in his living room, surrounded by reminders of his daughter’s life.

The piano she played rests along a wall. Her smile beams from a childhood photo that hangs alongside portraits of her three siblings. The carpet where she and her friends played during sleep-overs is the same.

In the corner, a stone angel and a teddy bear serve as reminders of her death.

Rebecca Koborie, the oldest daughter of John and his wife, Julianne, died Sept. 11, 2001. She was an executive secretary for the insurance company Marsh & McLellan, working on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center when terrorists hijacked planes and rammed them into the tower.

The angel and teddy bear in the living room were given to the Kobories by Rebecca’s friends in New York, people they had never met.

It’s been 10 years since the attack, but to John, it doesn’t seem that long ago.

“The way the memory of a lot of people is, it becomes more and more stale,” he said. “People forget as time goes on. But in our mind, it’s just like it happened yesterday.”

John recalled going to New York City with Julianne to search for Rebecca.

“We had been told people were badly hurt, badly burnt and in hospitals, but that was not the case,” John said.

They never found her.

John took some pictures during that trip — pictures he hasn’t looked at in years. He said he doesn’t need to look.

“The picture stays in my mind, with all the mangled metal [at ground zero],” he said. “It was blown up and burned down. It gave me a sense of helplessness. When I look at it, no way, no how anybody had a chance of getting out of there.”


A lot has happened in the life of Jackie Lynch in 10 years. She moved back to the Mahoning Valley and then relocated to Philadelphia. Her two daughters, Tiffany Marie, 32, and Ashley Nicole, 27, are grown. She’s a grandmother.

And she’s gone through these life changes without the love of her life.

Her husband, Terry Lynch, an Ursuline High School and Youngstown State University alumnus, worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a worldwide consulting company with offices in Virginia. On Sept. 11, 2001, Terry had a meeting at the Pentagon.

He didn’t come home.

“We’ve taken 10 years to mourn,” Jackie said. “It’s time to move on.”

Lynch, an Austintown Fitch graduate, had taken an active role among the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon. She advocated for the families’ inclusion during memorial ceremonies and for increased security measures.

“I’m really shocked we haven’t been attacked by them again. A lot of people have paid a price” to ensure that safety, she said, referring to the U.S. military.

Lynch has since stepped back from her advocacy role, but will attend ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks in Washington, D.C., which include a service at the National Cathedral and a special performance at The Kennedy Center.

“Every Sept. 11 we do something, but we are not going to moan, and we’re not going to mourn anymore. It’s just too much,” Jackie said.

She said her husband lives on through memorials at YSU and the Pentagon, foundations and their grandchild, 5-month-old Terence Jackson (T.J.), Terry’s namesake.

Jackie said she can feel her husband’s presence. She recalled her daughter Tiffany’s wedding when the sun shone so brightly she couldn’t see the couple.

“It was like he surrounded them. That’s how Terry comes out. During the memorial services, the sun will come out. That’s how we always know he’s so close to us,” she said.

To the Kobories, Rebecca lives on, too.

“We still keep her in our minds very much every day, as matter of fact every minute,” John said.

John will return to ground zero today with his son and granddaughter for the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial.

He said ever since his grandchildren were young, they were told about Rebecca and what happened on 9/11.

“They have no conception of the attacks. You have to explain it to them and of course they can’t comprehend how that can happen — an airplane being flown into a building,” John said.

“They conceive it as mystery. They can’t believe that that can actually happen. Neither did I. To me, it’s still a mystery,” he continued.

He also called it destiny — destiny that he traveled around the world in the Army and returned from every conflict unscathed.

“I came back here from the service, and this has to happen,” he said. “What did I do in this world to deserve this?

“There is a reason. I don’t know what it is. I’ll probably never find out as long I’m on this earth, but there is a reason.”

He fell silent.

“Who can answer that?” he said.

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