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09-11-08, 08:47 AM
Memories live on as pain lessens
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Jacksonville woman reflects on 9/11 death of brother
September 11, 2008 - 12:17AM

For Ashley Calabro, the grieving gets a little easier with the passing of each Sept. 11.

Her brother, Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Lee Burford, of Hubert, was a 23-year-old Navy electronic technician who spent his days at the Pentagon working on computers. Seven years ago on Sept. 11, Burford was asked to help move office furniture in the portion of the building that was being renovated. He was killed when a commercial airliner, hijacked by terrorists, crashed into the Pentagon.

"My brother is always going to be remembered - and for such a wonderful thing at that," said Calabro, Burford's younger sister. "Grieving has become a lot easier. After all these years and after all the wonderful things that have happened, I feel that he's watching over me."

Calabro's parents divorced when she was 6, and she looked to her older brother for support.

"He was my rock the whole time," said the Jacksonville resident.

Burford always made sure he told his sister how smart she was and how successful she would be. He shared his zest for life with everyone he encountered.

"Everyone that had ever met Chris ... always said what a wonderful person he was and how they would always remember him," Calabro said.

Burford decorated his barracks room with Pokemon paraphernalia and loved bowling, playing pool, the Pittsburgh Steelers and singing karaoke, said Calabro, who has assumed her brother's love of karaoke and bowling.

"My brother was probably one of the most fun people in the world," Calabro said. "When he passed away I felt like it was my job to pick up and try (his hobbies)."

Because Burford died the same day as so many others, Calabro said it has made things easier.

"We know other people are going through this, too," she said. "It's so much easier to get it out in the open and know they're going through the same thing."

Calabro said she's no longer angry about her brother's death, and she attributes many positive things in her life to her brother's continued presence.

"We always know he's around us," she said.

This year, the anniversary of 9/11 will bring something positive to Calabro. Her husband, Lance Cpl. Stephen Calabro, will be returning from a seven-month deployment to Iraq.

"It's bittersweet ... let there be a day that I can remember something good as well as something tragic," she said.

Calabro said she sees the ceremonies held today across the nation to remember the events of 9/11 as a chance to move on.

"I think it's great when people can actually look back and reflect and celebrate the day, rather than mourn it," she said.

Contact Jacksonville/Onslow government reporter Molly DeWitt at 910-219-8455. Visit www.jdnews.com to comment.