Personal Statements from 9/11 Survivors, Families, First Responders

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Donna Marsh O’Connor, Mother of Vanessa Lang Langer

As the world moves further and further away from the actual events of 9/11/2001 both in time and spirit, and as 9/11 effaces into yet another simple story cast in history, as the parent of Vanessa Lang Langer lost as the towers fell, I want to let it go. I want to stop talking about 9/11. I am tired of the questions unasked and unanswered. I am tired of the effort to burst yet another happiness bubble in our collective American psyche. And, too, I am tired of talking about Vanessa's death. Better for my family, in the immediacy of trying to live out our present days, to focus on Vanessa's life. To laugh at her memories and revel in pictures of her beautiful face. If it were only for the present and the joys I can still share with my children, my family and my fellow citizens, not just of this country but the world, I would let it go. I would so let it go.

But there is, after all literally, the future. And the future never relied so heavily on redress of questions unanswered in the present. To first ask and then answer what happened that day. Who committed this crime? Who should be held accountable? That is why I support the NYC CAN Ballot Initiative, and I ask for your support as well. It is beyond time for an investigation. It is beyond time.

Bob Mcilvaine, Father of Bobby Mcilvaine

Dear Citizens of New York City,

We lost our son Bobby on September 11, 2001. The death of a child is a pain like no other, compounded by the fact that this wonderful young man was murdered. When a crime as heinous as this takes place, it is assumed that justice will be served and the perpetrators will be discovered and punished. Much to our dismay, this has not taken place. We only want the truth.

Our only hope, at this juncture, is to support the NYC CAN Ballot Initiative, calling for an unbiased and non-political investigation of our son’s murder.

Jean Canavan, Sister in law of Sean Canavan

On September 11, 2001, my brother-in-law, Sean Canavan, was taken from our family in such a tragic way that there is no “getting over it.” That day was devastating for so many people but the pain is worsened when so many questions are left unanswered and no one is held accountable. How is it acceptable that the 9/11 Commission resulted in more questions than answers? How is it acceptable that Co-chairs of the Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, are able to publish a book stating that the Commission was “Set up to fail” and that they were lied to by NORAD officials? Are we to just accept what the government has told us? The truth is that we don’t know what happened because the truth hasn’t been told. There will continue to be speculation until an impartial, independent investigation is done and the truth is told, whatever that may be. New York City CAN do it.

Reverend Edith Beaujon, First Responder:

I was a First Responder at Ground Zero with the Red Cross working for several days without a mask. I have had numerous health problems that are related to working at Ground Zero including pneumonia, and an autoimmune syndrome that has been identified as related to being at Ground Zero. Now I have excess toxins in my body including mercury, lead, tin and others that are causing health issues, for which I have had to spend thousands of dollars.

I do not believe there was a thorough investigation of the events of 9/11 and I would like to see an independent investigation conducted.

Janette MacKinlay, Survivor:

As I watched the events of 9/11 unfold before my eyes from my apartment window directly across the street from the World Trade Center towers, I never dreamed it would change my life and the lives of people around the world in such a profound and destructive way. I was covered with dust as debris poured into our burst window. Every breath brought dust into me. At that penetrating and traumatizing moment September 11th became a permanent part of me. My recovery from PTSD has been one of art to heal my soul and psyche, and activism to right the wrongs committed that day.

The well-documented omissions and distortions in the 9/11 Commission Report have left a black cloud of doubt over America. A new independent investigation is imperative to lift this cloud. The future safety and well being of our children and grandchildren depend on this, as does the future safety and well being of everyone around the world. It is for these reasons I pray we can have the unity of purpose to support NYC CAN. All of our support is critical. Every person counts. We need to seize this moment.

William Rodriguez, Survivor

The events of 9/11/01 changed the lives of everybody in the new millennium. This event also changed my life forever. I came to work that day not expecting to be a witness of the horror, despair and desolation that was 9/11. On that horrible day I went floor by floor trying to help people as I was one of the few people in the complex with a master key. I helped evacuate many lives, and yet, though they say I am a hero, they, the government officials, the 9/11 Commission and the major media, have all ignored or edited my story: many explosions occurred that morning, explosions that were not related to the impact of the planes. As I learned later, my story did not fit the story the government told. My testimony was omitted from the final report. At long last though, the New York Coalition for Accountability Now, sponsors of this ballot initiative, are aiming to bring about a real investigation of what really happened that day. That is why I wholeheartedly endorse their efforts and have agreed and am honored to join their Executive Council. We need to bring closure for the victim’s families, friends and survivors, for us all, and the only way to do that is to bring about a full and thorough investigation of 9/11. NYC CAN can do it!

Ted Walter, Executive Director

On the morning of September 11 I was in my first ever class at NYU. I had moved to the city only two weeks before. Experiencing the horror of that day alongside thousands of other New Yorkers made me feel a connection to the city right away, and it quickly became my home. As a New Yorker of eight years, I feel as unsafe as ever because I believe we do not have the answers for why we were left unprotected that morning. I give everything I have to NYC CAN to ensure the future safety of all New Yorkers and all Americans, and for my best friend who lost his brother on September 11.

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Comment by coachlouise on June 5, 2011 at 3:32pm
Comment by coachlouise on June 5, 2011 at 2:43pm
This event, along with others is what made me name my site Americas Grief Coach, as America is all her glory, has a cloud over her, grief is showing her face in all areas. We a country united and strong from the faith in God, have been confused. What happened to God, what happened to serving the people, when did America slip into just serving just a few? I pray for America daily, I love America, and I hold in my heart that one day truth will prevail, and the cloud will lift of and we will begin a new.
Comment by Barbra Ingrassia Fairman on February 16, 2011 at 6:44pm

When the towers came down, we feared out loved ones would too. But God gave them wings and instead they flew.

 Sergio Villanueva, ladder 132, engine 280. Your absolute dynamic energy will never die. I know you were there too greet my brother and I know you are there watching over me through this devastating loss.9/11/01 will never be forgotton by me. For the families of those who passed I can only promise you that every year I will sit in front of my TVand listen to every name read. I know they get it wrong sometimes but just know that I have cried for every father, brother, sister, mother,aunt, uncle, and friend that had a loss on that day.

Comment by Paige Anne Lovelace on May 14, 2010 at 9:19am
I have not forgotten 9-11 and I never will. I think about that day all the time. And I stop to say little prayers of thanks to all of the first responders and people who helped that day. But the biggest prayers I have are for the people who died that day. God will not forget them and I won't either.

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