||Reflections and Remembrances|
In commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS) is hosting this space on its website to provide a unique opportunity to hear from individuals – state employees, victim assistance providers, allied professionals and staff from partner agencies – who worked with or for victims of that tragic event.
This forum will allow those individuals to share their reflections on the impact of the day’s events on their work and lives. From those varied perspectives, another story of September 11 will be told.
It is our hope that this process will be a meaningful forum for those who chose to write and illuminating for those who choose to read.
Tina M. Stanford
It was a Tuesday, so no graduate classes at Syracuse University, but a full day in the hair salon with two other stylists. I had listened to the Orwell-istic news on my way to work. Shock consumed me. Relatives were calling me at work, asking if I knew. Besides my brother, who was working in Jersey City, I worried with my clients, coworkers and their clients, as we hung on every word of news from the radio. Clients shared their worst fears for the sons, daughters and closest friends that were unaccounted for, or the great fortune of miraculously deciding to take a later train that morning. Those with afternoon appointments came anyway, needing to share their numbness. In the coming months I healed in my social work courses, grateful for a healthy outlet, as the world was changed with hatred and mistrust. As we honor the 10-year anniversary, let us remember the victims who lost their lives.
Catholic Charities of Chenango County/Crime Victims Program
I'd just like to say that I was on the PATH train headed to the World Trade Center when the train stopped and the conductor announced “We are being re-routed to 33rd Street, because there was an accident at the World Trade Center.” When I came upstairs I saw some people covered in white dust and the women were crying, but I did not know what happened until I reached my job up on the 33rd floor and was told that the World Trade Center was on fire. I could not believe what I was seeing, it was like a nightmare. I began to pray that the people I used to work with on the 64th floor the year before 2001 were able to get out.
NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)
I went to the armory on 9/12 to assist victims with their applications. The pain, sorrow and confusion was among everybody there. I was approached by a woman whose daughter was missing, when I turned, the woman began to scream and hold me really tight, calling me by her daughter’s name. The soldiers came to take her away from me, but I stopped them. After crying for a while, she told me I looked just like her daughter and the fact that I allowed her to hold me was a relief for her because she felt she was holding her own daughter even if it was for a last time. I always remember that incident, one of too many sad memories...
NYS Office of Victims Services
He was able to dig himself out of the rubble where he worked at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. He later learned that his daughter who also worked there had survived. But the outcome was not the same for his son. The son who proudly obtained a job there with the help of his father had died. I tried to offer comfort and explained to the father what he and his daughter needed to do in order to apply for compensation benefits. He was just one of the countless survivors that called for help. They needed empathy first, then compensation information. My colleagues and I were here for them.
NYS Office of Victim Services
September 11, 2001 was a gorgeous day. The sky was blue and cloud free, the temperature was perfect for an early fall day. I was driving up the road to a meeting thinking it doesn't get any better than this. While I remember my time working with victims in NYC and doing all kinds of tasks in the office to help where ever necessary, I don't remember the sun shining again for months. I know it must have, but I just can't remember it.
NYS Office of Victim Services
May God watch over the thousands of innocent victims and their families of this senseless act of violence that changed America forever but we stand strong, united and fearless as a nation and continue to set the standards for freedom and democracy in the world and hatred will never change us or our values. God Bless America and the men and women who keep us free.
John M York, Sheriff - Livingston County New York
Livingston County Sheriff
I responded to the WTC site after hearing that a plane had crashed into the building. En route I heard about the other plane and knew something was wrong. Upon arrival, I assisted in the evacuation process of the North Tower and was inside that building when the South Tower collapsed. I was very upset with myself at that time because I felt I had caused my own death. I recovered from inside the building and continued to help people out of the building until told to get out, shortly thereafter that building collapsed also. I guess I'm lucky and I know that I have a purpose here on earth. I hope that I can fulfill that purpose before I too am gone.
Marcial Rosado, Jr.
New York State Parole; now NYS DOCCS
As with any task that an officer is assigned, my mindset was nothing less than professional with a goal of completing my duties without the interference of emotion. That mindset was tested at Ground Zero when I came to understand the devastation in front of me. My soul was shaken, not by the wreckage of the buildings all around, but by the wall I observed that had letters/photos posted by loved ones who had been separated from their mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and coworkers. Buildings can be replaced, but lives were permanently shattered. Since that day, I have held a renewed sense of compassion and brotherhood, not only for emergency responders but for my fellow Americans.
Wayne County Sheriff's Office
I was working part-time in an Emergency Room in upper Manhattan at the time. We spent a few days on alert, waiting for the survivors who never came. I remember vividly walking into the ER on Sept 14th, and seeing all the "Missing" posters on every single inch of wall space, even in the bathrooms. I stopped and cried for a full five minutes when the reality struck that these people weren't missing, they were gone. All those happy smiling people in those pictures were never going home. All those families who would never see a loved one again. Even now I cry as I type this. The images of the towers never get me as much as the thoughts of the families.
Gary Pagliaro, RN
After the first plane hit, we were all in (then) DSS Connolly's office at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. As we watched the events unfolding, we thought the plane accidently crashed into the tower. Then the second plane hit. Shock and horror came over us all. During that day we took measures to steady the staff and inmate population as best we could. When our tour was over we could see the smoke rise up as we looked down the Hudson River. Life would never be the same. A few weeks later, as Commissioner of Police in my second job, I took my K-9 officer and his partner "Max" to NYC to assist in any way we could. Someone took our photos in front of Tower 4. In the attached photos you can see the I-beams that landed in the shape of a cross behind us. God Bless the USA!!!
Michael Capra, Deputy Superintendent of Security
Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
I was working in the Queens Parole Office as a supervisor, with my Unit, on 9/11/01. I became part of a team that did Recovery Work protecting nurses who answered emergency calls regarding anthrax questions, etc. There were several anthrax and bomb threats in the building which led to evacuations. The most amazing experience in this tragedy was to watch the New York City residents and my colleagues rally to help and support other people. Parole Officers were adaptive at adjusting to the new duty of guarding nurses who were servicing the public with emergency hotlines. It was remarkable to see New Yorkers overcome the danger and sadness and work as a team.
Senior Parole Officer Shannon M. Craig
New York State Parole/NYS DOCCS
As the program I direct at United Way is mostly funded by FEMA, and the FEMA office downtown was disabled, on the afternoon of September 11, I started receiving calls. People from as far away as Sydney, Australia, Berlin, Germany and Juneau, Alaska, wanted some means of helping the victims of the attacks. United Way NYC built a network of response, directing people to where the Human Resources Administration had coordination centers. United Way of New York City and New York Community Trust started a fund of assistance to victims.
Itala T. Rutter
United Way of New York City
Several of us from DCJS volunteered to go to OVS (formerly CVB) to answer calls from 9/11 victims/family members. I was honored to be a part of it because I felt it would help in some small way - but it was very painful and exhausting. I think I did it for about a week and pretty much went home every day and cried. I don't know how the staff of OVS did it as long as they did. They helped so many people navigate a system when everything seemed so hopeless. They are heroes for doing so.
NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), Violence Against Women Unit
9/11 was a day of danger, stress and empowerment. I met many wonderful and caring people who looked out for each other that day no matter their race or nationality. The effects of 9/11 will be there for many generations to come with sadness, visions of heroic acts and loving memories.
Marilyn Vallejo, LCSW
American Red Cross in Nassau County
I remember the day like it was yesterday. My wife and I were packed and just heading out the door to go to the airport for a flight to Italy. My wife Sue answered the phone and a coworker said, "Thank god you are all right. Tthey are bombing NYC." We couldn't believe it. We turned on the TV and I remember how furious I was and then how sad. I could see the pain and despair. I knew the death count was going to be very high. I remember saying, "We are going to go to Italy anyway. They aren't going to stop us." But they did stop us and anyone else that wanted to take a flight. Our country was virtually crippled. People unsure about anything. Horrific death and suffering in NYC, Washington and Pennsylvania. Public transportation virtually nonexistent. The world watched as heroes worked to save people at great risk of death themselves. All of us watching the exodus and waiting for the next strike. I felt compelled to do something but couldn’t. I wanted to go there and help but that would be impossible. It was frustrating. Instead we here at DCJS volunteered to answer calls and take reports at the Crime Victim Board’s hotline. The calls came in nonstop and we tried to reassure people that their families would be taken care of. It felt good to contribute in this small way. It was the only way for us to help at the time.
NYS DCJS Office of Forensic Services
In the days after 9-11-01, people were dazed trying to understand the magnitude of what happened and desperately trying to find their loved ones. I was at the Pier helping one family file for CVB benefits for their son when the mother collapsed into my arms hysterical. All I could do was hold her and rock with her to comfort her. Afterward, I went into the ladies’ room and I cried and asked God, "Why?"
NYS Office of Victim Services
It was very overwhelming working at the Pier on 54th Street. Everybody wanted to tell their story. We heard peoples' stories and saw strong-looking men shaking, while they described seeing people trapped and then jumping. In between each interview I made it a point to go to the ladies’ room and just stand in a stall to calm down. New York City was knocked down but has managed to rise up and shine again!
NYS Office of Victim Services
On 9/24/01, I went to NYC to help families at the Pier. For five days I assisted victims who were in a state of crisis that I pray our country never experiences again. I will never forget meeting a gentleman whose son died at the WTC. He was holding his grandson who was born just days after 9/11. I commented on what a beautiful baby he was and he responded that he will never have the chance to know his father. I still get teary when I think of this child who will be turning 10 this fall and never met his own father. It was helping people like this that made me realize even more what an amazing agency I work for that helps so many victims in their darkest days. We cannot bring someone's loved one back, but we can assist in other ways.
Colleen M. Noonan
NYS Office of Victim Services
I counseled the mother of a young man who was killed on 9/11. Her heart was shattered by the loss and the senseless way in which her son died along with countless others. He worked in one of the towers and had no way to escape the impending doom of the building collapsing. He was caught on one of the floors above the plane crash. We sat together as she recalled her life with her son from birth until his death. She was so proud of her son, which was evident in her sorrow at his loss. The loss of her son did not only take an emotional toll on this mother, but also a physical toll. She was diagnosed with MS within six months of 9/11. Her medical doctors told her the stress of this tragedy could have triggered the MS.
Laura Sisak, LCSW-R
VIBS aka Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk
At 8:15 on 9/11, I was at United Way for a meeting. The meeting was cancelled and with only a partial understanding of what was happening, I walked downtown to help open our office to those who were leaving the towers. I was working at Urban Justice Center. We were close, on Broadway and Houston. We had water, phones and bathrooms. We offered this to the streams of very grateful people who were walking up Broadway. It was the beginning of months of sadness and loss. But it also was a time when generosity ruled, creativity prevailed, and animosities gave way to cooperation. I chose to volunteer with Safe Horizon to lead trauma groups and all around me people were opening their hearts and marshaling resources to assist those who were so unfairly targeted on that sunny September morning. May it serve as a reminder of what we are capable of: the bad and the good.
NYS Office of Victim Services
Memories are vivid from that time: Lines of frightened, exhausted New Yorkers from so many parts of the world waiting for telephone cards, food, therapy, news of others; the lovely young Puerto Rican mother whose little girl saw "a woman falling from the sky" while the child neared her elementary school; the Iranian Jewish immigrant who could not stop shaking his head that this would happen to him HERE; the blonde Russian woman in a red sweater from Chernobyl, who had lost her only son to the nuclear fallout and begged her husband to run away with her to the safety of New York City to live; the very pregnant Jamaican woman, her dreads piled high and flowing, cradling her big belly as she rocked with recurrent waves of panic attacks, fearful for her unborn child, crying for her own mother in Montenegro; the couple from Turkey who feared their children would be harmed by angry people who may see all Muslims as the enemy; the Vietnamese shopkeeper from Chinatown, one of the "boat people" who recalled the bombings and the fall of Saigon, when he saw the vendor area in the tower turn to dust; the FEMA workers from Brooklyn who heard the news of the plane crashing in Belle Harbor and believed for a terrifying early morning that we were again under attack; Pasquale, an Italian immigrant volunteer who had served in the Vietnam War soon after coming to our country, and to this great sea of humanity we know as New York City.
Rosemarie D. Amendolia, PhD
Trauma & Addictions Recovery Assoc. (TARA)
9/11 Moment of Silence - The moment America was quiet: schoolyards, jailhouses, executive high-rolling businesses; the farmer halting in the field; the babies not crying in their cribs; the nurses touching the pain of their patients; the cathedrals ringing emptiness - not swept by the searing sun, nor the wild winds; relentless hurricanes flood waters crop failures shaking quakes of earth - none of these compared to the peoples' hurt and silence and incredible anger - a lone dog howls; Devastation, the day the towers tumbled and fell.
Diane L. Creedon
NYSTDOCCS - Marcy Correctional Facility
It’s been difficult for me to reflect on events from 9/11 even 10 years later. I recall traveling to New York to assist at the Pier with my colleagues. Working 14 hour shifts, I assisted many people, giving each one of them the attention they yearned for - recalling stories of their loved ones. I sat with families of older men and women whose spouses were missing to young women with their infant babies searching for their loved ones and needing assistance. I remember no one spoke of their family members gone, but that they were “missing.” I will never forget these events or the solemn faces of those who seemed so lost, searching for answers and needing our assistance. I will always remember and appreciate the stories that these people told and know that I was able to give them a little something back at one of the most horrific times of their lives.
NYS Office of Victim Services
I was transporting a murder suspect to another agency and upon arrival, we were told that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. By the time we got the suspect turned over, the second plane had hit the towers as well. Shock at news of a tragic crash quickly turned into disbelief with the understanding that this was a premeditated attack. America was forever changed. May God Bless the brave military men and women serving to protect us and our way of life. May He also bless the families who wait and pray for the return of these heroes.
Sheriff Richard Cutting
Essex County Sheriff's Office
An forgettable experience from the weeks after September 11: I was working at the pier and met a mother whose son had been killed. After we were done, I left her to have some dinner. I was walking away to assist another family. I suddenly was startled to hear someone screaming my name, "Vilma! Vilma!" I turned and the client was motioning me back. I was wondering what did I forget to do for her? The mother said, "I forgot something." I asked, "What?" Her reply, "I forgot to give you a hug." That mother's compassion and warmth always comes back to me. It reminds me of a quote from Emily Dickinson, "We never know how high we are till we are called to rise." I remain in awe by this mother's resilience and courage ten years later.
Safe Horizon Bronx Criminal Court
While attending a meeting in Saratoga the morning of 9/11, we were asked to return to the office immediately. It was then we were informed of a plane crash. I thought the first plane was an "accident" until the second plane hit - it was then we knew it was an attack. I could never have imagined the Twin Towers collapsing - the image is still with me. We were assigned to NYC to assist those affected. Inside the Pier on 54th Street, on the right side of the Pier, there were photos of "missing persons". I remember when the request was made for attorneys to assist with death certificates and the tremendous number who volunteered their services. The request took away the hope that there were any survivors. I will never forget the screams of those who were escorted to the attorneys as the walked down the right side of the Pier. Inside the Pier, people had access to most immediate needs - translators, Internet access, long distance phone service, medical care, counseling, religious organizations and three meals daily. I remember those who were displaced from their homes that came to the Pier daily to have a meals with their family. I remember what seemed like thousands of teddy bears; the taxi driver's contribution to drive us to hotel after 12-14 hours days; 12 rows of 12 people across from the Pier on Westside Highway kneeling on the sidewalk praying; therapy dogs; messages from across the nation; the stories of loved ones lost; the hugs; the tears and the ferry to site. NYC had a stillness, a calmness, a quietness! In the midst of this tradegy, I will never forget the tremendous compassion and outpouring of love displayed by people to one another.
Formerly of Office of Victim Services