Couple keeps memory of attacks alive

Kenneth Kelley was born in Texas, but since the Sept.

11 terrorist attacks his heart will always be with New York City.

"I am a Texan by birth, but a New Yorker by choice," Kelley said.

His patriotism is on display at his home in Kingman where he has gathered together a commemorative display he calls the, "Wall of Tears," which honors those who lost their lives in the Sept.

11 attack.

Since Sept.

11 Kelley, 81, and his wife, Kathleen, have been collecting photographs, hats, patches and other items pertaining to the events that claimed the lives of so many innocent people.

Also included in the collection are photos and memorabilia from two other tragedies, one closer to home and one further away: July 5, 1973, the day of the Doxol explosion in Kingman; and Dec.

7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Kelley said he has a soft spot for firefighters, and has a grandson who is a firefighter.

The Kingman tragedy - in which an explosion of a propane railroad tanker car burned and then exploded, killing 11 firefighters and one civilian, and injuring about 100 others affected him deeply.

However, Kelley said it was 9-11 that galvanized a nation and sparked a renewed sense of patriotism that he had not seen since he served as a U.

S.

Army paratrooper in World War II.

New York City has always been a pivotal point for the Kelleys.

In 1942, when Kelley was assigned to the 82nd Airborne he sailed out of New York City to join U.S.

forces in North Africa.

In 1944, while oversees in England, Kelley met and married Kathleen, who knows first hand what it is like to live in a war zone.

"The bombs went off all the time," she said.

"Every night we would head for the shelter as soon as the sirens went off."

In 1946 Kathleen boarded a ship for the United States with their firstborn son, John, who was a year old.

"The first thing I saw when we were coming into New York City was the Statute of Liberty.

It was such a thrill," she said.

The Kelleys moved to Kingman Feb.

5, 1963, when Ken started work at the Duval Mine as general foreman.

The couple had three more children: daughters Linda, Karran and Kim.

In 1970, Kelley was promoted to mine superintendent, and stayed in that position until the mine closed in 1981.

Kathleen Kelley said the since the attacks, she has come to realize that the liberty she has come cherish since living in the United States should not be taken for granted.

"September 11 was a horrible day for us," she said.

"I was in shock.

I was thinking, 'oh no, not again.

This can't be happening here too.'"

Since then the Kelley's have collected items to honor the people who died as a result of the Sept.

11 terrorist attacks, including photos of the 343 firefighters who died.

"I was watching TV the morning of the attack," Ken Kelley said.

"I didn't know what was happening when the first plane hit the towers.

I thought it was some disoriented pilot.

When the second plane hit I still didn't have a clue.

"Later in the day we found out it was a terrorist attack.

I was aghast.

It was a numbing sensation to think anyone would even conceive the idea of doing that."