His Flag Is Still Flying
Richard B. Madden's daughter, Patricia, was only 19 months old when she kissed her father for the last time. But already they had their little jokes.
Every morning, before setting off for his job as an insurance broker at Aon, he would warn her, "I'm going to work. Don't grow up on me now." Then, when he got home, he would chide her for having disobeyed him.
Mr. Madden, 35 and a first-time father, would also forbid her to mess with his still full head of hair, which, of course, she took as an invitation.
And as only a dad can do, he taught her how to clink her juice bottle to his beer glass and say, "Cheers."
Father and daughter shared one other little ritual long before it became fashionable. Mr. Madden would take down the flag outside his home in Westfield, N.J., each night before bed and take it indoors. Each morning, little Tricia would shout, "Flag! Flag!" to remind him it was time to hang it again. "My husband was a strong Republican," said Mr. Madden's wife, Maura. "He was very proud that at her age, his daughter wanted the flag outside."
On Sept. 11, he had called Mrs. Madden from the 100th floor of the south tower, afraid he would not make it out. The authorities later identified his body in the rubble from the inscription on his wedding ring, which read, "Rich, all my love, Maura."
Since Sept. 11, the flag has remained on display, round-the-clock, and the ring has remained on display around Mrs. Madden's neck.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 27, 2001.