Yesterday The New York Post posted an article telling the stories of some of the children who lost their parents in the September 11 terror attacks.
The article reports:
For the widows of 9/11, some of whom were profiled by The Post on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, some had no choice but to put their grief aside in order to raise their families. As for the babies they were expecting and the newborns they cradled in their arms: Now turning 18, they’ve grown up dreaming of a parent they’ve only heard about.
“I believe he’s up there, helping me with my success,” says Allison Lee, born two days after her father, Dan, was killed in the terrorist attacks. Next month, she’ll move to Los Angeles, where her father grew up, to begin a dance program.
Allison says she can picture him giving her a thumbs-up, just as he’d done in the photos she’s seen. “I know he’d be telling me, ‘You’ve got this. Don’t give up on your dream.’”
The article continues:
NYPD detective Joseph Vigiano had just three months with his infant son, John, before he ran into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, trying to rescue the people trapped inside. Their father-son time was short, but precious.
“I have a picture I took of John sleeping on Joe [on] the couch,” says his wife, Kathy, who met Joseph when they were police officers stationed in Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct and is now retired from the force. “I guess that’s the best bonding you could do with an infant.”
With his older boys, Joseph Jr. and Jimmy, Joseph was a hands-on dad, says Kathy, now 54 and living on Long Island. He made his sons mini NYPD uniforms, cutting up one of his leather belts to fashion holsters that held flashlights and other tools.
…Although Kathy’s youngest child grew up without knowing his father, he says he’s felt his presence all his life. “He’s looking out over me,” John, now 18, says. When he learned his dad started a lacrosse league with the NYPD, he took up the sport, playing it throughout his time at St. Anthony’s High School. Now, a Marine Transportation major at SUNY Maritime in the Bronx, John says he’s doing everything he can to make his dad proud.
That includes his aspirations for service: His late uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather were all FDNY firefighters. When John finishes at SUNY Maritime, he intends on applying to both the NYPD and the FDNY.
“[My dad] pursued the things that he was passionate about, and earned the respect of the people around him while doing it,” John says. “He would be proud of me looking to better myself.”
The article continues:
Early in September 2001, Dan Lee was preparing for one last business trip before his daughter’s birth. He and his wife, Kellie, had even picked out a name: Allison.
“I remember him talking to her through my belly before he left,” says Kellie, now 50.
In Boston on Sept. 11, Dan boarded American Airlines Flight 11 for the trip home to Los Angeles. It never arrived — diverted by terrorists into the north tower of the World Trade Center, killing all those aboard and, after a second plane hit the south tower, some 2,600 others in the towers and on the ground.
Allison was born on Sept. 13. In the couple of days that followed, the hospital placed Kellie on suicide watch.
“I just felt hollow,” says Kellie, who also had a 2-year-old daughter, Amanda, at home. “But I had babies to take care of.”
With time, the family began to heal. They moved to Las Vegas, where Kellie remarried, and her second husband, Chris, came to be like a father to the girls. Every Sept. 11, the family visits Dan’s favorite restaurant, Islands, which has an outpost in Vegas. And while her sister has vague memories of their father, it was different for Allison. “All you get are stories,” Allison says.
…Allison, who’ll move to Los Angeles next month to study at the Millennium Dance Complex, says that dancing helps her deal with the loss that’s shaped her life.
“Anything I’m feeling, I can express through dance,” she says. In 2016, she and her dance troupe performed a tribute to Sept. 11, with her family’s story woven throughout the interpretation. It was an emotional experience, she says.
“Once we danced through it, I realized a whole part of me is missing,” she says. “It helped me process it.”
Most days, though, the strongest feeling she has when she thinks about Sept. 11 is one of gratitude, for her mom.
“I think about how strong she was to go through that and still do all these things for us,” Allison says. “She’s the most positive person I know.”
There are signs that Joseph Reina is deeply connected to his late father, Joe.
Joe was an operations manager for Cantor Fitzgerald, working on the 101st floor of the north tower when the planes hit. His wife, Lisa, was almost 8 months pregnant. She gave birth to Joseph in a haze on Oct. 4, still dreaming, she says, that her husband would find his way home.
…Lisa still sees her son look up and smile, although she’s yet to tell him what happened to his father: Joseph, who’s on the autism spectrum and has difficulty communicating, wouldn’t be capable of comprehending the tragedy, Lisa says.
But she sometimes feels she doesn’t need to tell him. “He just has a feeling,” she says.
She saw the strong physical resemblance between Joseph and his father — “the kind of guy who could light up a room” — as early as her baby’s first Christmas, when she took his picture and saw his daddy’s funny smile. Back then, Lisa didn’t know how she was going to raise him alone.
These are just a few of the stories. To many American children, the events of September 11th are something in history books (if they are told there). They are too young to remember the horror and uncertainty of that day. Before 9/11 there were supposed to be rules of war–attacking civilian targets was considered uncivilized. In a sense, 9/11 ended that myth.