The terrorist attack on America 10 years ago is one of the few events in U.S. history big enough to claim its date as its name. But Sept. 11, 2001, did not change the nation as abruptly as Dec. 7, 1941, or as dramatically as July 4, 1776. This time, there was no declaration of war or independence, just a warning that if we altered our ways, the terrorists would have won.
NY Daily News via Getty Images
Capt. Michael Dugan hangs an American flag from a light pole in front of what is left of the World Trade Center after it was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
NY Daily News via Getty Images
========= ADVERTISEMENT =========
========= ADVERTISEMENT =========
Capt. Michael Dugan hangs an American flag from a light pole in front of what is left of the World Trade Center after it was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
And so we entered a new era slowly, incrementally. Day by day. Person by person.
A decade later, we can see the changes in our nation by looking at the changes in our people — some who were close to the cataclysm, some far from it.
What follows are the stories of 20 such Americans. They suggest 9/11 was like a rock thrown in a pond, its impact rippling out until all the water is roiled.
Told as a series of snapshots in time, these 20 stories form a pointillist narrative of how America got from then to now, through invasion and investigation, reconstruction, rehabilitation and revival, tightening security at home and constant warfare abroad.
In their tales, we hear an echo of our own concerns about the next terrorist attack, the struggle between liberty and security, the pat-down at the gate.
When the stories begin on 9/11, two of the subjects are still in high school. Another, in his sixth decade, is carried dead from the World Trade Center. In the years that follow, we come to understand a bit of the orphan's grief, the warrior's courage, the priest's faith, the convert's curiosity, the zealot's recklessness.
We go on a widow's first date and share a bereft couple's surprise that, against all odds, they have something to bury of a lost son.
We learn what motivated the first American to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the Afghanistan War, how a fireman who survived Ground Zero enlisted to fight in Iraq and what happened once he got there.
A daughter, in losing her mother, discovers her true calling. One mother fights to clear her son's name; another discovers that hers was the mysterious "man in the red bandanna" who led fellow office workers to safety at the Trade Center.
The ripples of 9/11 spread far from where the four hijacked planes crashed in New York City and Arlington, Va., and near Shanksville, Pa. They affect the post of poet laureate of the state of New Jersey; the right of a public worker to burn a sacred book; and possibly even the movement to legalize gay marriage.
A photo of a spontaneous hug helps decide the 2004 presidential election. A former captive of Muslim terrorists in a distant land lives to see most of her captors destroyed — and to help some of those who survived.
In such a decade, plans often come to naught. A patriotic teenager who wants to learn more about his nation's attackers ends up accepting their religion. A young woman, moved by 9/11 to enlist in the Army and discover herself, suffers debilitating wounds that make her wonder who she really is.
A Pentagon worker looking forward to an active retirement is so seriously burned that she can neither climb stairs nor lift her 12-pound bowling ball.
This is what it was like in the decade after Sept. 11, the date claimed by catastrophe, the door from then to now.
Mike Spann poses with his children Allison, 9, right, Emily, 3, left and Jake, 6 months, taken at their home in Manassas, Va., the day he left for Afghanistan in October 2001.
Mike Spann: First to fall in Afghanistan
A 32-year-old CIA paramilitary officer, Johnny "Mike" Spann goes to Afghanistan after 9/11 to fight the Taliban, the Islamist regime that provided al-Qaeda with a base from which to attack the U.S. He's at one of the crucial battles of the war, then becomes its first American combat fatality — and an inspiration to his Alabama hometown.
By Rick Hampson USA TODAY
9.11.2001: More than most Americans, Mike Spann, a CIA paramilitary officer and former Marine officer, realizes life has been changed by the terror attacks. He knows the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the fight against those who sheltered him in Afghanistan will demand the skills of people like him.
9.19.2001: Spann e-mails his father, Johnny, in Winfield, Ala., his feelings about the coming war: "Support your government and military, especially when bodies start coming home. Our way of life is at stake. We must fight for it. … What everyone needs to understand is these fellows hate you. They hate you because you are an American."
10.1.2001: Spann prepares to go to Afghanistan to fight alongside the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. He has decided to volunteer even though he is married (to a fellow CIA employee) and the father of three young children. He tells his father that after the attacks by al-Qaeda, which operated from Afghanistan with the consent of the Taliban regime, he owes it not just to his nation, but to his family.
10.18.2001: Shannon Spann, Mike's wife, spends a typical night at home in Northern Virginia with the children. She helps one child with homework, reads the Bible and thinks about Mike's safe return, writing in her journal, "I can't wait until we're all together." She is caring for Mike's two daughters from his first marriage — Alison, 9, and Emily, 4 — as well as her son with Mike, 6-month-old Jake.
11.24.2001: For weeks, Spann has been with the Northern Alliance, traveling through rugged and dangerous terrain, sometimes on horseback. With their military situation in northern Afghanistan becoming critical, hundreds of pro-Taliban fighters — most of them non-Afghans — surrender near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
11.25.2001: Mike Spann is interrogating POWs at a makeshift jail. He tries without success to question an English-speaking prisoner whom he does not realize is a fellow American: John Walker Lindh.
Moments later, a riot breaks out. Spann is killed in the fighting, becoming the war's first U.S. combat fatality.
12.1.2001: Winfield, a Bible Belt town of about 5,000, mourns the loss of a local hero. Spann is remembered as an all-American kid who got good grades in school, went to church and on weekends drank a little beer and raised a little hell. Once distant, "the conflict has become very personal," writes editor Tracy Estes in the local Journal Record.
12.6.2001: Spann is remembered at a church memorial service in Winfield. His daughter Alison is accompanied by her grandfather to the altar, where he reads a letter she's written: "Daddy, I will miss you dearly. I will miss you, but I know you're going to a better place. Thank you for making the world a better place. Love, your dear daughter Alison." Later, she places the letter in her father's casket.
12.10.2001: Spann is buried in Section 34, site 2359, at Arlington National Cemetery. Wife Shannon tells mourners that after the 9/11 attacks "he didn't separate serving his country from serving his family. When Mike took the oath to defend the Constitution … he took that oath to our family as well. He just really thought it was his duty as a father to protect his children from terrorists."
2.13.2002: The father of accused Taliban member John Walker Lindh is rebuffed when he tries to shake hands with Mike Spann's father, Johnny. After his son's arraignment in Alexandria, Va., Frank Lindh approaches Spann. But Spann does not shake his hand. Spann and Mike's mother later tell reporters the defendant is a traitor. They believe their son died as the result of a prisoners' plot of which Lindh must have been aware. A news video has surfaced that shows Spann talking to Lindh shortly before the riot.
7.15.2002: Lindh pleads guilty to charges with maximum penalties of 20 years. The plea bargain, which stuns a packed courtroom, averts a trial on 10 counts that could have brought life in prison. Lindh, 21, admits to U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III that he illegally supported the Taliban as an infantryman. Shannon Spann says that in pleading guilty, Lindh "agreed with the government that his conduct was terrorist activity." But Spann's father says his son and other Americans battling terrorists "have been let down."
10.4.2002: At Lindh's sentencing, Johnny Spann says Lindh bears some responsibility for his son's death: "My grandchildren would love to know their dad would be back in 20 years. The punishment doesn't fit the crime." Ellis says he wouldn't have approved the plea bargain if the government showed any evidence of his culpability in Spann's death. A teary Lindh tells Ellis he had "no role" in it.
9.14.2003: A new biography of Lindh questions whether he was really unaware of plans for the prison rebellion in which Spann was killed. Mark Kukis writes in My Heart Became Attached: The Strange Journey of John Walker Lindh: "It seems impossible that (Lindh) would not have known people in the (prison) basement were armed and plotting a revolt when he sat before Spann, saying nothing that might warn Spann."
12.18.2007: Mike Spann's father says he opposes an attempt by Lindh's parents to get President Bush to commute their son's 20-year sentence and set him free.
5.28.2010: Alison Spann graduates from high school in Winfield, where she lives with her grandparents. People remember the words Alison wrote for her father's memorial service, and that his death was not her last tragedy. Shortly after he was killed, her mother, Johnny's ex-wife, died of cancer.
6.7.2010: Afghanistan passes Vietnam as America's longest continuous war. In Winfield, people remember the war's first U.S. fatality. Almost everyone appreciates Mike Spann's sacrifice, but they disagree on whether the war should continue.
Spann's father says it's imperative to keep the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan before 9/11, out of power. Dale Weeks, one of Mike's boyhood friends, isn't so sure: "It's time to start bringing people home. We've done about all we can do."
By Lisa Nipp, AP
Attorney General John Ashcroft, right, talks to Solictor General
Ted Olson: A change of course
Barbara Olson, a conservative lawyer and pundit and wife of former solicitor general Ted Olson,is a passenger aboard one of the hijacked jetliners. After her death, her husband finds apolitically unlikely mate, and takes some unexpected stands on issues of the day.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Barbara Olson, a conservative lawyer and pundit and the wife of former solicitor general Ted Olson, is a passenger on American Flight 77 when it's hijacked after takeoff from Washington Dulles International Airport en route to Los Angeles. She covertly calls her husband, reporting that the hijackers have knives and box-cutters. She says the plane is flying over houses.
Ted, who turns 61 today, tells her about the morning's two previous hijackings and crashes. Then the call is cut off. Moments later, Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.
9.17.2001: There's an empty chair on the set when ABC's late-night comedy show Politically Incorrect resumes following the 9/11 attacks. It's in memory of Barbara Olson, who was flying to Los Angeles to be a guest on the show. She was 47.
5.4.2002: Kentucky Derby Day. Ted Olson takes in the races at Churchill Downs with Lady Booth, a 41-year-old lawyer from Kentucky. It's a surprising match: Booth is a Democrat and Olson the conservative Republican who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case that effectively handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2001.
10.21.2005: Olson asks Booth to marry him, and she says yes, according to TheWashington Post. They have been dating for more than three years. They set their wedding date for exactly a year later.
10.21.2006: Olson and Booth marry at a resort in California's Napa Valley. Guests include Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, former justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and David Boies, Olson's opponent in Bush v. Gore. It's her first marriage, his fourth.
5.26.2009: Olson and Boies say they'll join forces in a battle to legalize same-sex marriage. They'll stage a federal court challenge to California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage. Olson and Boies will represent two same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses because of Prop 8. Some gay-marriage advocates hope the case can establish a federal constitutional right; others fear it's the wrong time and place for such a challenge, and that a loss could cripple the movement.
7.25.2009: In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Olson is asked about his marriage to a woman who supported Barack Obama for president. Has Booth influenced his political thinking? "She thinks she has!" he replies. "She's working on me. … We don't learn anything if we surround ourselves (with) people who think the same way we do."
3.15.2010: Olson lashes out at an Internet ad by a conservative advocacy group, Keep America Safe
, criticizing Justice Department lawyers who previously did pro bono work representing terror suspects detained at Guantanamo Bay. The ad refers to the Department of Justice as the "Department of Jihad." Keep America Safe's founders include Dick Cheney's daughter Liz and Debra Burlingame, sister of the pilot of American Flight 77 on 9/11. But Olson tells Newsweek he has the "greatest respect" for lawyers who represented the detainees and says they acted "consistent with the finest traditions of the legal profession."
8.4.2010: A federal judge overturns Proposition 8, ruling that it violates both the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. But an appeals court puts the judge's injunction against enforcing the law on hold.
8.18.2010: Olson says he supports President Obama's view that Muslims should be allowed to build an Islamic center and mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero. The conservative Republican lawyer tells MSNBC: "It may not make me popular with some people, but I think probably the president was right about this. We don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith."
8.19.2010: Lady Booth is asked if she has had an impact on her Republican husband's thinking on some issues. "In my innermost thoughts, I like to think he thought that on some level, but Ted's never said that," she tells TheNew York Times. "He's very proud. He owns his own decisions."
By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY
Lauren Kiefer Foley is the sister of firefighter Michael Kiefer, who was killed on 9/11. Mike Kiefer's memorial page on Legacy.com is one of the site's most active. Some of the most poignant postings were written by Lauren, who was 22 when he died.
Firefighter Michael Kiefer: Holiday memorials
The following notes were posted on the Legacy.com memorial site for Michael Kiefer, one of 343 New York firefighters killed on 9/11. Written over the past decade by relatives and friends, they mark the years' major holidays, including his birthday, Dec. 5. Kiefer died nine months after being assigned to his first firehouse. He was 25.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
First anniversary of 9/11 (2002)
Today I received my 9/11 bracelet with Michael's name on it. I never met him but I am the mother of 3 boys, the oldest 24. My heart goes out to you and as a mother I will wear this bracelet as if Michael was my own son. He will be in my heart and prayers every single day.
- Debbie Wilkins, Peabody, Mass.
27th Birthday (Dec. 5, 2002)
I wanted to wish you a happy birthday. You are a special angel up there. I remember one year when we were little we called each other on our birthday. So it's my turn to call you. Happy Birthday and know that we all love and think of you every day.
- Erin (Erin Darmody, East Northport, N.Y.)
I am thankful for having you as my BIG brother for 25 years on Earth and all of these years you continue to watch over me. Although I am sad you will not meet your nephew here on Earth, I know in my heart you were with my baby for some time before you sent him to me.
- Kerri Kiefer-Viverito, Franklin Square, N.Y.
Valentine's Day (2006)
Happy Valentine's to the BEST big brother ever! I can't even begin to tell you how big the hole in my heart is ever since you were taken, and it gets bigger with each passing day. … I still find it hard to believe that I am writing you on a memorial page. This is not the way it is supposed to be. Every time I see the images of the towers collapsed I am sick to my stomach. That is the exact moment we lost you! I love you with all my heart. I will NEVER forget!
- your little sister Lauren
My Dearest Michael,
Another holiday without you. How will we ever get used to this? Easter was a holiday that you always loved most of all because of your deep faith in Jesus. Now you spend your Easters with him and I'm sure you're happy about that, but we miss you so much that we can't accept that you are not here with us. … Have a peaceful Easter and know that we will be thinking of you all day as we do every day. Rest in peace my beautiful Michael.
- Love, Mommy
Mother's Day (2006)
My dearest Michael tomorrow will be the 5th Mother's Day I will spend without you. I still have the first gift that you made me when you were in Pre-K. It sits on my dresser where it has been ever since you gave it to me. It means more to me then anything ever could. … I LOVE YOU with all of what's left of my broken heart.
Wishing for the days gone by when we all could be together for the holidays. Even as you grew older you would find a way to stop by with your family if you could. I would always be extra excited if you guys were coming. … I ask you to send us all some strength to get through another New Year without you.
- Love, Tracy xoxox
(Tracy Benenati, Patchogue, N.Y.)
Memorial Day (2009)
We all are thinking of you even more than normal. You were a great hero who served our country well during the horrible day in 2001! So Michael along with all our Memorial Day & other celebrations you are in our hearts. Thank you for the sacrifice that you made for your country & fellow man!
- Donna Malloy
Fourth of July (2009)
Michael it is time to celebrate our freedom here in the USA. We have many heroes to thank for the right especially you, your fellow firefighter brothers, police & rescue workers who gave their lives that horrible day so that we can continue to be free! Love & miss you
St. Patrick's Day (2010)
Hey Mike, Wishing you were here to celebrate with us the way you should be; in your uniform smiling down 5th Avenue with all your brothers. God Bless, and enjoy your St. Pat's.
- Mike, Malverne, N.Y.
By Garrett Hubbard, USA TODAY
At the crash site: After years of contention, Tim Lambert donated 6 acres to the
Tim Lambert: Steward of sacred ground
A radio news reporter discovers that he has a special relationship to the place where United Flight 93 crashed on 9/11: His family owns it. For him, it marks the beginning of a decade-long process of deciding how to memorialize the tragedy and the heroism of the passengers.
By Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY
9.11.01: Tim Lambert is working as a radio reporter at WITF in Harrisburg, Pa., when he learns that United Flight 93 has crashed about 150 miles to the west. He thinks, "I bet my dad knows somebody who knows where this is." His father tells him he recognized the site on television: It's land their family owns near the town of Shanksville.
10.6.2001: Lambert and his father visit Shanksville for the first time since Flight 93 crashed nearby. It's Tim's first visit since his grandmother's death more than 20 years ago. Somerset County Coroner Wally Miller takes them to the crash site, which includes 6 of their 160-plus acres. At first, Tim doesn't see any visible wreckage. Then Miller picks up a quarter-size piece of metal, part of the plane. Suddenly everything changes — "like a camera shutter — snap," Lambert thinks. Now, debris is all he can see. "Wire, pieces of metal, paper, scraps from the seat belts."
2.23.2002: Lambert attends a meeting in New Jersey with coroner Miller and families of those lost on Flight 93 to discuss what to do with remains and personal effects from the site. "All I care about is what you want for the site," Lambert tells the families. He meets Debby Borza. Her daughter, Deora Bodley, died in the crash.
9.10.2002: The day before the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, family members of those killed on Flight 93 are allowed to visit the crash site. Lambert is happy to see that some of the hundreds of relatives are smiling; kids are playing in the field. He spots the husband of a flight attendant, whom he remembers from the February family meeting in New Jersey. Then, the man was a wreck. Today, he appears to be in better shape, and Lambert feels the crash site could begin to be a place of life as well as death.
12.5.2002: Lambert pledges to donate 6 acres to the Flight 93 memorial and starts negotiating with the Conservation Fund, a non-profit land-preservation group, for sale of another 160 acres. The fund offers $167,000.
6.21.2003: Lambert learns he has not been chosen to be a member of the federal commission to oversee the memorial's creation. He is crushed and hurt that his work on the Flight 93 Task Force and his good relations with the families did not outweigh the potential conflict of interest he faces as a landowner. He later resigns from the task force.
7.28.2006: Debby Borza, one of the Flight 93 family members to whom Lambert has become close, throws him a birthday party at the Pine Grill, near the crash site. His new girlfriend, Amy, is impressed at the bond that has developed between him and the families.
9.9.2006: WITF in Harrisburg airs Lambert's report about his visit to the Flight 93 site with Borza, Esther Heymann and Ben Wainio, all of whom lost daughters in the crash. "Through a twist of fate (because his family owns part of the land), I am one of the people who can visit here," Lambert says.
5.7.2009: The National Park Service says it will use eminent domain to acquire land for the Flight 93 memorial, including 6 acres Lambert had planned to donate. Lambert is shocked and disappointed.
6.12.2009: Lambert reaches a deal with the park service to sell 157 acres adjoining the crash site, and donates 6 acres that are part of the crash site itself.
8.8.2009: Lambert marries his girlfriend, Amy, with coroner Miller serving as an usher.
8.6.2010: Lambert signs papers donating 6 acres and selling 157 acres to the memorial. "It's time to move on," he thinks. "They don't need me for this anymore."
By Mark Wilson, Getty Images
Carie Lemack holds a picture of her mother, who died on
Carie Lemack: A mother lost, a cause found
An MIT graduate student loses her mother on American Airlines Flight 11 when hijackersslam it into the World Trade Center on 9/11. In the months and years that follow,she finds in her grief, loss and anger a source of meaning and motivation.
By Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY
9.12.2001: At the offices of Market Perspectives, a market research firm in Framingham, Mass., Carie Lemack, 26, tells employees that Judy Larocque, their founder and CEO and her mother, has been killed on American Airlines Flight 11 at the World Trade Center. Neighbors come by her mother's house to offer condolences to Carie, a grad student at MIT, and her sister, Danielle. "She's in a better place," some say. Carie is not a believer. "My mom is not OK with the fact that she got murdered," she thinks. "That's not a better place."
10.13.2001: Carie and Danielle attend an FBI meeting in Boston for families of those killed on 9/11. Upset about the airline bailout enacted the previous week that created the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund to shield airlines from lawsuits, the sisters circulate a contact information sheet to gather phone numbers and e-mail addresses of other victims' families.
10.26.2001: The first meeting of what becomes Families of September 11 is held at a Newton, Mass., hotel. Organized by Carie and Danielle, the group writes a four-part mission statement: improve aviation safety; advocate for a memorial; provide for families; and outreach. "If we don't start speaking out, they're going to make more decisions affecting us without our say," Carie Lemack tells the group.
10.27.2001: On what would have been her mother's 51st birthday, Carie attends the memorial service at Ground Zero for those killed in the attacks. The trip is covered by the Red Cross, but she has persuaded them to let her stay at a different hotel than the agency arranged. It would be too much, she says. "A hotel full of grieving families? I don't think so."
1.14.2002: Representing Families of September 11, Carie Lemack and other members hold a press conference in Boston to object to the proposed rules of the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund. Draft regulations would deduct life insurance and pensions from the compensation. Carie says she and her sister would receive nothing from the fund for the death of their mother. "I lost my mom on a plane. She flew into a building on national television," Carie says. "And then our rights were taken away from us."
7.31.2002: After faxing the White House for 17 days in a row asking why the president opposes an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks, Carie Lemack gets a letter from chief of staff Andrew Card reiterating the president's opposition. She calls the White House operator and says she won't hang up until she speaks with Card. Eventually, she gets to talk to Jay Lefkowitz, deputy director of domestic policy.
9.4.2002: Carie Lemack and other members of the Family Steering Committee, a group of 9/11 widows and relatives, meet with Card at the White House to urge support for the creation of a 9/11 investigative panel. "Everyone's asking us if the president is being supportive. What's our answer?" she asks. A congressional bill creating the 9/11 Commission is signed into law by President Bush on Nov. 27.
4.8.2004: Testifying before the 9/11 Commission, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says there were no credible warnings about the 9/11 attack. After her testimony, she hugs 9/11 family members in attendance. Carie Lemack isn't one of them. "Accountability, ma'am, accountability," she calls out to the secretary of State. "I want the full truth."
12.6.2004: In a last-minute push, 9/11 families, including Carie Lemack, hold a press conference with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., to urge Congress to pass intelligence reforms recommended by the 9/11 Commission. It's Carie's 14th trip to Washington to push legislators to pass the bill since September. That evening, she and other Family Steering Committee members hold a silent vigil outside the White House as members of Congress arrive for the annual White House Christmas party.
12.7.2004: Congress passes a bill for which Carie Lemack and other 9/11 family members have lobbied that would implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendations for overhauling intelligence-gathering agencies. Ten days later, she watches Bush sign the bill.
9.1.2005: Carie Lemack flies to Washington to meet with Transportation Security Administration head Kip Hawley to protest the agency's decision to lift the ban on scissors and small tools aboard planes. On the plane, she gets the idea for 9/11 families to personally thank TSA screeners for their work.
3.6.2006: Carrying a framed photo of her mother, Carie Lemack goes to the opening day of the death penalty phase of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted of conspiring with the 9/11 hijackers. She watches with 300 family members in a federal courthouse in Boston via closed-circuit TV.
5.9.2006: Carie visits the Buffalo-Niagara airport to thank TSA screeners for their efforts to stop terrorists. "Your job is tough. People are constantly complaining about the screening process. You have to stand there and look at X-ray images all day, and your feet hurt," she says. "But you're making a big difference, and the 9/11 families see that difference and appreciate it."
4.5.2007: On her way to a meeting at the White House on the threat of nuclear terrorism, Carie gets a call from her sister, Danielle. A police officer has come to Danielle's house in Belmont, Mass., to tell her that the New York City medical examiner has identified some remains of their mother, six years after her death. As soon as they can, Carie and her sister go to New York and take the remains — a foot — home to Massachusetts. She doesn't want her mother in New York for a minute longer than necessary.
9.9.2008: At a United Nations symposium on supporting victims of terrorism, Carie Lemack meets Ashraf al-Khaled, a Jordanian whose father and 26 others were killed by a suicide bomber at his 2005 wedding in Amman.
7.13.2009: Carie gets a call from friends that her mom's golden retriever, Naboo, has died. Naboo has been living with friends since Carie moved to Washington, D.C., in 2006. She remembers Naboo greeting her at the door of her mother's house on 9/11 when she rushed there after learning her mother had been on one of the hijacked planes. "I kissed her nose, and it smelled like my mom. I knew it was the last time I would ever smell my mom."
11.9.2009: Carie Lemack launches Global Survivors Network with al-Khaled. She begins raising money to make a movie about terror victims such as al-Khaled.
8.3.2010: The documentary Killing in the Name, about the suicide bombing at al-Khaled's wedding, premieres. It is nominated for an Oscar for best short documentary.
2.27.2011: Four last-minute tickets mean Carie attends the Oscars with her sister and al-Khaled and his wife, Nadia. Prior to the announcement of the winner, Carie sneaks to the front of the auditorium with plans to rush the stage and call for a moment of silence for victims of terrorism around the world if Killing in the Name wins. But it does not.
By Garrett Hubbard, USA TODAY
Feared rescue efforts would go awry:
The Burnhams: A complicated captivity
Martin and Gracia Burnham, American missionaries, are kidnapped in May 2001 in the southern Philippinesby the Muslim rebel group Abu Sayyaf. They're moved through the jungle as the rebels try to get ransom. After 9/11, in light of Abu Sayyaf's alleged links to al-Qaeda, their plight attracts international attention. The only thing the Burnhams dread more than captivity is a "rescue" by Philippine troops; they're sure they'll be killed in the process.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: It's the 107th day of captivity for Martin and Gracia Burnham, American Christian missionaries who were kidnapped May 27, 2001, in the southern Philippines by the Muslim rebel group Abu Sayyaf. They have been moved constantly through the jungle on the island of Basilan as their captors try to extract ransom. When they learn of the attacks on the United States, the Burnhams are afraid their release, which they've been confident would eventually occur, will be complicated. Gracia thinks, "Our goose is cooked."
9.19.2001: Martin Burnham's 42nd birthday. That night, alluding to the 9/11 attacks, one of their captors tells the Burnhams that "the Christian world has pushed us too far, and we're sick of it. When people are oppressed, you can't hold them back. It's just going to be this way until we are given what we want." And he says the movement won't stop with liberating the Philippines: "Islam is for the whole world."
10.15.2001: Martin is allowed to do a live radio interview via phone. He asks the Philippine army to stop its armed rescue attempts, which have placed their lives in danger: "I'm always tied up. I am always at the center of the group. … They cannot rescue me with an artillery attempt, and they cannot rescue me with an airstrike. We will only be killed, and our children will only be orphans."
The Burnhams are sure that in a frontal assault they'd be killed — by their kidnappers or their rescuers. They believe only negotiations can save them.
11.19.2001: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo meets President Bush at the White House, assuring him that her military can rescue the Burnhams. The 9/11 attacks have made the U.S. more concerned with Muslim extremism in the Philippines and elsewhere, but the Philippine constitution explicitly forbids foreign troops from operating in the country.
11.22.2001: The Burnhams receive a box of supplies from supporters with prescription glasses for Martin and a copy of Newsweek with an article about their captivity. The Burnhams get angry when their captors take things such as Snickers and Cheez Whiz for themselves. But the couple share with other hostages, handing out spices, soup mixes, cookies, peanuts and deodorant. Only later do they realize it's the fourth Thursday in the month — Thanksgiving.
11.25.2001: Martin videotapes an interview with a Filipino journalist that is later shown on CBS News' 48 Hours: "I would say to my own government: Could you negotiate or talk to these people?" Gracia says: "We're always hungry. There's never enough food. This is no way to live. There's no way to take care of yourself. …We've been forgotten. We need someone to show us some mercy. Is there no one in this whole country who can help us?" The interviewer tells Gracia that the 9/11 attacks hurt their chances for release, because "now the U.S. is mad at terrorists and won't pay anything."
12.13.2001: Gracia, who has begun to keep a journal, writes: "I feel like a dirty animal — muddy wet, stinky. Asked God for a nice place to take a bath." That morning she tells Martin: "It's Wednesday night in the States — midweek service time in at least some churches. People are praying for us right now."
12.19.2001: The Burnhams' supporters present a petition at the White House with 20,000 signatures calling for their release. Their three children, who lived with them in the Philippines, have moved to be with Martin's family in Kansas.
12.25.2001: Martin and Gracia celebrate Christmas with a breakfast of plain rice and play checkers with twigs, foil and a piece of paper. Gracia recites, from memory, a Bible verse: "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Back in Martin's hometown in Kansas, their presents sit in a corner, unopened.
1.2.2002: The Philippine government accepts a U.S. offer of training and logistical support in its battle with the Muslim separatist group Abu Sayyaf, which has been linked to al-Qaeda. The Burnhams aren't sure how to react. Will it increase their value to their captors, or make a ransom payment less likely? Does it mean a rescue operation is more likely? And is that good or bad?
5.20.2002: The Burnhams persuade their captors to let them listen to a shortwave radio. They find a Christian station in Alaska and hear their first spoken Scripture in almost a year, from Romans 8: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" The preacher continues: "If you are in the midst of a hard situation, and if you could hear Christ in the next room praying, you wouldn't be afraid of a thousand enemies. He would be calling your name." The minister prays for the oppressed and the persecuted, including Christians treated wrongly because of their faith. Martin and Gracia look at each other, tears in their eyes. It's like he's praying for them.
5.27.2002: The anniversary of the Burnhams' captivity. Several shiploads of Philippine government troops have landed nearby, promising a "rescue" attempt the Burnhams are afraid will be their undoing. Gracia thinks that the noose is tightening around them.
6.7.2002: The Burnhams' 376th day of captivity. They're resting in their hammock on a rainy afternoon when a battle erupts between their captors and Philippine soldiers. Gracia is shot in the leg and Martin is killed by a bullet through the chest. Gracia thinks that, as she'd feared, the troops came in with all barrels blazing, despite the hostages. Most of the rebels escape. Gracia is airlifted to a hospital.
6.8.2002: Gracia, resting in a hospital in Manila, meets President Arroyo. In captivity, Gracia often planned to tell the president that her military was corrupt and incompetent. But now she doesn't even tell Arroyo that her troops killed her husband, Martin. She figures the army feels bad about what happened, and she doesn't need to make anyone feel worse.
6.10.2002: Gracia arrives at the Kansas City, Mo., airport and is reunited with her three children, Jeff, Mindy and Zack. She tells reporters she blames their captors for Martin's death: "We were repeatedly lied to by the Abu Sayyaf, and they are not men of honor. They should be treated as common criminals. We support all U.S. government efforts in assisting the Philippines in ridding that country of terrorism." In New York, Secretary of State Colin Powell says the "murderous example of Abu Sayyaf" proves the U.S. was right to take the war against terrorism beyond Afghanistan.
6.21.2002: One of the Muslim rebel leaders who held the Burnhams is killed in a gunbattle with Philippine marines. Abu Sabaya, chief spokesman for Abu Sayyaf, is in a boat with six other rebels that's intercepted off the coast of the southern Philippines. The marines are guided by intelligence from U.S. spy planes, and by a transponder provided by U.S. intelligence officers that an informer hid in Sabaya's backpack.
9.27.2002: A Muslim rebel accused of kidnapping the Burnhams says the Philippine government sacrificed the couple for the war on terrorism. In a taped message played on a radio station on the southern island of Mindanao, Khadafi Janjalani says government officials were willing "to sacrifice them to advance their political and economic interests" and to "justify their so-called war on terrorism. … Perhaps a negotiated settlement would have resulted in an earlier resolution."
7.30.2002: Gracia has a problem: People are sending money to her new home in Kansas that she doesn't know what to do with. So she'll start the Martin and Gracia Burnham Foundation, with "ministries to Muslims" as a focus. Gracia writes that in captivity she "saw firsthand the plight of the Muslim community." The foundation will support "organizations seeking new and creative ways to reach the Muslim community for Christ."
5.1.2003: Gracia's memoirs of captivity, In the Presence of My Enemies, is published. She dedicates it to all who prayed for her and Martin: "It is because of you that I came out alive and am able to tell the story." She writes that a Filipino general, whom she does not identify, tried to get half of a possible ransom for the hostages, and that soldiers delivered food and sold weapons to the rebels.
7.27.2004: Gracia returns to the Philippines to testify against her alleged abductors. On the southern island of Mindanao, an Abu Sayyaf leader who remains at large is interviewed by a radio station. Addressing Burnham, Abu Solaiman says, "Welcome back. Nothing personal about what happened to her. … Gracia, you only lost Martin, but for us, we lost our homeland." A U.S.-backed Philippines Army offensive has dislodged the rebels from Basilan island, where the Burnhams spent much of their captivity. Philippine officials say the group is down from 1,000 fighters four years ago to about 300.
1.17.2007: Before dawn on her 48th birthday, Gracia is awakened by a phone call from the Associated Press in Manila. Another of her captors, Abu Solaiman, was shot to death the previous day in a battle with the Philippine military. To Gracia, it's another bit of closure.
9.21.2008: Gracia, whose foundation helps several of her imprisoned former captors, gets a letter from a maximum security prison in Manila. The writer asks whether she recalls "the experiences we had" and reminds her of how he cooked eel for the hostages. He says he's innocent, because he was forced to join the rebels when they came through his village. He signs the letter "Your friend, Bashir."
By Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
Abby Carter sits along
Abigail Carter: A widow's journey
The mother of two loses her husband on 9/11, unleashing a torrent of emotions — sadness, anger, fear, hope — as she tries to build a new life for her and her children, to find her voice as a writer and to settle in what feels like home.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Abigail Carter becomes a widow and single parent at 35 when her husband, Arron Dack, is killed while visiting the World Trade Center on business. Alone at home in Montclair, N.J., with their young children, Olivia and Carter, she feels lost.
9.20.2001: Abby Carter lies in bed at 4 a.m. She wishes Arron into bed with her. She imagines running her hands down his body, remembering every freckle, bump and curve. She imagines what he must have endured on 9/11 — fear, anger, remorse, all over the course of a few minutes, like a passenger in a crashing plane. She imagines his regrets: that they hadn't taken the weekend free from the kids she'd nagged him about; that he hadn't spent more time with the kids; that she and he hadn't made love more often.
9.24.2001: It's the first day of school since 9/11 for 6-year-old Olivia. She doesn't want to go, she tells her mother, because everyone will look at her. Abby knows what she means; she, too, has sequestered herself indoors, afraid she might suddenly burst into tears, or just that something terrible might happen again.
10.30.2001: Abby spends her first night in the queen-size bed she bought to replace the king-size one that she shared with Arron and had grown to feel so empty. Once, she'd wanted such a bed to bring them closer; in the queen, somehow, she now feels closer to him.
1.19.2002: Abby attends a meeting for 9/11 families. In a discussion with other widows, she admits that she seems constantly angry with her kids. Around the room, heads nod. Later, the mothers join their children, who have been writing letters and attaching them to helium balloons. Olivia's reads: "Dear Daddy, I miss you. I hope you like heaven." The kids go outside and release the balloons into the sky.
2.14.2002: Abby manages to forget it's Valentine's Day until she and her two kids go to breakfast at a resort hotel and find red paper hearts taped to the door. She squeezes her eyes shut, wishing the day would disappear. Inside, each table has a single red rose. She reflects that, as with everything in her life, her expectations of Valentine's Day will have to be redefined.
12.13.2002: Abby goes on her first date since 9/11. She knows when he walks into the coffee shop that this isn't the guy for her. She also worries what would happen if a friend walked in and wonders what she's doing with this bald man. She blushes, feeling as if she's cheating on Arron. She laughs nervously at her date's strange jokes, which have a desperate quality — not like Arron's silly, lighthearted humor.
5.31.2003: A second blind date. Brian is a divorced man with two kids. Abby met him online. At a restaurant, they laugh, talk, drink wine and eat great French food. Abby feels they have chemistry.
At the end of the evening, they stand awkwardly by her car, not knowing whether they should kiss goodnight. After four dates, she later writes, she "surrenders completely … after a prelude of slow-dancing to Stevie Wonder in my living room."
9.24.2003: Abby begins writing memoirs of her experiences since 9/11. She types "September 11, 2001" on top of the screen of her Mac and makes it bold. She feels she needs to unlock her stories, stories that someday she needs her kids to read.
12.30.2003: Abby meets Michael, a divorced divinity school student, while visiting friends in Seattle. She has been feeling estranged from Brian. At the end of the evening, Michael pulls her into a doorway, and they kiss briefly.
1.7.2004: Abby and Brian celebrate his birthday. A week later, increasingly estranged, she breaks up with him. She has realized she doesn't love him and doesn't want to have "a Brady Bunch family" with him. But she fears she'll never love again, that Arron's memory will always come in the way.
2.13.2004: Abby receives a visit in New Jersey from Michael. When she falls at a skating rink, Michael makes her cups of tea, picks up takeout for dinner and entertains her the next day while she waits at the hospital emergency room.
She thinks maybe she could fall in love again.
3.25.2004: Abby leaves the kids with her mother-in-law in New Jersey and flies to Seattle to visit Michael. They spend hours in bed, getting up only to make tea and eggs. They look deep into each other's eyes as they talk about spirituality. They ignore the future, enjoy the present. They plan to reunite in Mexico in a month. She will bring her kids.
3.29.2004: Abby begins to think about leaving Montclair. The house and its memories weigh on her; and ever since the terrorist attacks, she has felt afraid living near New York.
6.2.2004: Abby hosts Olivia's 9th birthday party. Abby's boyfriend, Michael, has Olivia and friends in stitches, teaching them improvisational comedy tricks.
"Michael might be my new dad," Olivia tells one of her guests. But Abby suspects that Michael's heart isn't in their relationship, and she can't imagine the four of them as a family.
8.6.2004: While visiting Seattle, Abby receives her checks from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001. She finds these pieces of paper, meant to replace her husband, disappointingly insubstantial. "Are we rich now?" Olivia asks. "Yes, a little," her mother answers. "But no. It has to last us for the rest of our lives. … Although it might mean that I don't have to go back to work again right away." Olivia's response: "Goody!"
10.08.2004: Abby dedicates a backyard memorial to Arron. It's a birdbath with mosaic tiles depicting symbolic creatures: a butterfly for Arron; a bird for Abby, whom he nicknamed "Bird"; a horse for Olivia, whom as a baby he dubbed "Pickle Horse"; and a cow for Carter, who drank so much milk as a baby. That night, for a neighborhood gathering, Abby fills the birdbath bowl with champagne and hands guests silly straws. It's the third anniversary of Arron's memorial service.
12.04.2004: Looking at homes in Seattle and considering a move there, Abby finds a creamy-yellow Italian-villa-style house perched on a grassy slope with gardens and views of Lake Washington. "This is it," she tells a friend. By 5 p.m., she and the seller have agreed on a price. This, she hopes, is where she can write her memoirs.
7.9.2005: Abby and her children board a flight to Seattle. She feels as if she's in limbo, between two worlds.
10.15.2006: Abby signs a deal to write a book about her 9/11 widowhood. She has nine months to produce a manuscript.
3.29.2008: Abby's memoirs, The Alchemy of Loss: A Young Widow's Transformation, is published. In a review, the Toronto Globe and Mail calls it "eloquent and honest. … Reading it is like sitting at your own kitchen table listening to Abigail Carter's story, a story that is unnerving, uplifting and occasionally humorous."
But, like most 9/11 memoirs, the book does not sell well.
4.13.2009: A blog post by Abby: "Lately when I have dreams about Arron, I am angry at him because he has just told me that he is leaving me, and wants a divorce. I can't help but be struck by the thought that my mind is helping me divorce my ghost husband. Deep down, it feels like something I need to do to get to whatever might be next. … It feels like good pain, that last scratch that removes the scab revealing the tender pink skin underneath."
1.31.2011: Another blog post: "I have been attempting to write about Arron for the new book I hope to write. Oddly, I am finding this infinitely difficult. … Over 9+ years, I have slowly disengaged myself from Arron in such a way that he has become more of an idea than an actual person. … It makes me feel like perhaps I am not hanging on quite as tightly as I worry I do, that I am freer of him than I thought. I feel happy when I think of him, smile at memories, but rarely do I break down in snot-producing sobs anymore. I feel proud about that."
By Garrett Hubbard, USA TODAY
Spreading word: Jefferson Crowther holds a photo he took of his son, Welles. He says his job is to tell as many people as he can of his son's bravery on Sept. 11.
Welles Crowther: Man with the red bandanna
The family of a man lost in the 9/11 terror attacks wonders how he died, and what he was doing at the end.A red bandanna, which gives rise to a legend, helps answer those questions.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old equities trader, is working on the 104th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center when the first hijacked airliner hits the building's twin. He leaves a reassuring phone message for his mother at home in Nyack, N.Y. After that, nothing. His parents are left to wonder: How did he die? What was he doing at the end?
11.1.2001: Ladies' Home Journal publishes a first-person account by Judy Wein, an AON Corp. vice president who was injured and narrowly escaped from the south tower on Sept. 11. She writes: "A man with a red handkerchief over his face seemed to appear out of nowhere and pointed to the stairs. 'Anyone who can get up and walk, get up now,' he urged the other people on the floor." But she cannot identify the man. Crowther was a volunteer fireman who always carried a red-print bandanna in his back pocket. But his family and friends, who'd have made the connection, don't see the article.
3.19.2002: Crowther's remains are found near firefighters and emergency workers killed at a command center in the lobby of the south tower. Notified three days later, his family will note the significance of the date he was found: 19 was his lucky number — the one he wore playing varsity hockey at Nyack High School and lacrosse at Boston College.
5.25.2002: A New York Times article about the upper floors of the Trade Center on Sept. 11 says a "mysterious man appeared at one point, his mouth and nose covered with a red handkerchief" to help rescue several women from a dark, smoky stairway. One, Ling Young, says that she was steered toward safety by the man; that he called, "This way to the stairs!"; that he followed her down the stairs, carrying a woman on his back; that when they reached clearer air, he put the woman down and went back up the smoky stairs. But no one can identify the man.
5.26.2002: "Oh my God, Welles, there you are!" Alison Crowther reads the Times story and realizes the unidentified hero was her son, who since elementary school had carried a bandanna — a habit he picked up from his father, Jefferson. She overnights Ling Young, who's mentioned in the story, a photo of her son. Young confirms that the man, who'd taken off the bandanna to speak to her, was Crowther. "You don't forget a face like that," she tells Alison. Two weeks later, the TheJournal News of Rockland County, N.Y., identifies the man in the red bandanna as Crowther. It quotes Young as saying that although he saved others, "he didn't save himself."
6.23.2002: Alison and Jefferson Crowther have lunch at home with two women Welles helped, Judy Wein and Ling Young. Young is still in a wheelchair, recovering from burns. They drink water from Lourdes, the pilgrimage site in France, which Alison says helped her deal with despair over the loss of her son.
6.8.2003: Crowther's parents remove a red bandanna to unveil a bronze plaque dedicated to their son at Empire Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 in Nyack. Crowther joined his father as a volunteer at the fire company when he was 16. Ling Young attends the ceremony. "This brings back memories," she says. "I'm glad I found him and know who he is."
12.15.2006: Crowther becomes the first person to be posthumously made an honorary member of the New York Fire Department. "Under the most hellish of situations, he … saved all those lives," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta says.
10.20.2007: The annual Red Bandanna Run, a 5K run around the campus of Boston College and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, raises funds for the Welles Crowther Memorial Trust. Crowther graduated from BC in 1999. There's also an annual Red Bandanna Skate in his hometown. "When children and adults hear Welles' story, it changes them," says his mother, Alison. "It brings such a light into their soul — it's a beautiful thing for us."
8.8.2010: The Welles Crowther Memorial Trust gives $1,000 to send Joshua Colas, a seventh-grader from White Plains, N.Y., to the World Youth Chess Championships in Greece. On Dec. 15, Joshua will take the national seventh-grade title in Orlando. Two days later, he will become the youngest African-American chess grandmaster by defeating Leonardo Martinez at the Marshall Chess Club in New York.
9.12.2010: Musicians from some of New York's greatest orchestras take the stage at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack with red bandannas tied around their arms or tucked under their instruments and perform a concert in memory of Crowther. The concert, in its ninth year, aims to help heal painful memories with Bach, Debussy and Schumann … "music with a message of hope," Alison says.
2.25.2011: Alison and Jefferson Crowther visit a new exhibit in their son's honor at the preview site for the 9/11 memorial museum in New York. The exhibit features photos of Crowther, a recorded interview with his parents … and one of his signature red-print bandannas.
By Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
On Memorial Day: Alvin Amezquite and his wife, Erika, embrace May 31 at the grave of their friend Staff Sgt. Christian Engeldrum at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Amezquite and Engeldrum served together in the
Christian Engeldrum: A father's legacy
A New York City firefighter responds to the call on 9/11, then to the call to military service in Iraq.His death there leaves his wife, sons and yet-to-be-born daughter with a legacy of heroism and absence.
By Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: New York City firefighter Christian P. Engeldrum is at the city's Fire Academy training to be a chauffeur, or driver, when the World Trade Center attacks occur. A member of Ladder 61, the 36-year-old Engeldrum is an Army veteran of Desert Storm and served as a New York City police officer before joining the firefighters. Amid the rubble pile at Ground Zero, he steadies a ladder while another firefighter climbs to hang an American flag from a bent light pole, captured in a New York Daily News photograph. With his ladder company, he spends days searching the wreckage for remains.
2002: Engeldrum sends an American flag to old buddies in the 101st Airborne, in Afghanistan. They send it back, signed, and with a message: "Those who don't do battle for their country, don't know with what ease they accept their citizenship in America." Engeldrum and the Ladder 61 crew hang it in their firehouse in the Bronx.
Early 2004: When he learns that the National Guard is going to be called up to serve in Iraq, Engeldrum re-enlists. He joins the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, the "Fighting 69th," based in Manhattan. Only afterward does he tell his wife, Sharon. "It scared the crap out of me. I knew he was going to be sent (into combat) at some point," she says. "But he felt he needed to help his men out. It was like a brotherhood thing, and he had to go. He felt a responsibility."
3.17.2004: Cardinal Edward Egan announces the plans for deployment of the 69th to Iraq during the Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral before the start of the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
5.15.2004: Engeldrum leaves with his National Guard unit, the 69th Infantry, for training in California.
9.21.2004: Engeldrum is in New York for a two-week leave before deploying to Iraq. He visits his firefighting buddies at Ladder 61. He leaves without looking back. "I can't say goodbye to you guys," he says.
10.5.2004: Engeldrum arrives in Kuwait with the 69th Infantry. It is his second combat tour in the Middle East.
10.29.2004: The men of Ladder Company 61 in the Bronx, N.Y., get a letter from one of their own. Engeldrum thanks them for "Project Engeldrum," the new roof and repairs they made to his family home to help his wife, Sharon, while he's away. He shares the good news Sharon is expecting a baby, conceived during his last leave. "Oops! I hope it's a girl. But as long as it's healthy, I'm happy." He says how much he loves their fire company, located in Co-op City, a huge Bronx apartment complex . "The first day I stepped foot in the firehouse I felt like part of a family." And he lets them know he is on his way into Iraq. "They expect us to get hit pretty hard on the way," he writes. "If you don't hear from me again it means we got hit harder than I would have liked … I have to go now and cut some more steel to armor up our vehicles."
11.2.2004: Engeldrum's National Guard unit is sent to Baghdad and then to Taji, northwest of the city.
11.24.2004: The night before Thanksgiving, Engeldrum calls home from Iraq to his family in the Bronx. He says he is tired, but going out on a mission and wants to know if everything is well at home. Thanksgiving is special to Chris and Sharon: They met as teenagers on Thanksgiving Day 1983, at the gas station where Engeldrum worked for his uncle. Within a month they were an item; four years later, they were married.
11.29.2004: On patrol in Taji, Engeldrum is killed when his Humvee is hit by a roadside bomb. It is his son Royce's 16th birthday.
12.4.2004: President George W. Bush calls Sharon Engeldrum at home in the Bronx to offer condolences.
12.9.2004: Thousands of firefighters and mourners turn out for Engeldrum's funeral Mass at St. Benedict's Church in the Bronx. The next day, Engeldrum is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
2.3.2005: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton invites Sharon to be her guest at President Bush's State of the Union Address.
6.6.2005: Sharon gives birth to her third child, a girl, six months after the combat death of her husband. She names the baby girl Kristian. "I'm sad that her father can't see her, but I know he's looking down on her," she tells the New York Post.
8.22.2006: Sharon accompanies New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the dedication of a memorial to the "Fighting 69th" National Guard unit in Ballymote, Ireland.
9.8.2010: Kristian Engeldrum, born six months after her father's death in Iraq, starts kindergarten. "She knows that he's not here, that he's not with us, he's up in heaven," Sharon says. "I'm not sure if she grasps the actual realization."
11.19.2010: On what would be her husband's 45th birthday, Sharon and members of Ladder 61 make their annual trip to Arlington National Cemetery to visit Chris Engeldrum's grave.
4.14.2011: New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano presents the FDNY Foundation Service Recognition award to firefighters who have also served in the armed forces "in recognition of their commitment, courage and dedication to the citizens of New York City and to the nation through their tour of military service." Sharon accepts the award on behalf of all 304 firefighters who also had military service.
By Robert Scheer, The Indianapolis Sta
"My life was changed one day on a road in Iraq": Kristin Facer outside her home in Carmel, Ind. After her wounds, her struggle to recover and her retirement from the Army, she says she is proud of her service. "I would do it all over again."
Kristin Facer: A war's signature wound
She joined the Army after 9/11 and suffered a debilitating brain injury in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Now, Kristin Facer struggles to rebuild her life, to recover her mental acuity and to answer a question: Who am I now?
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Kristin Facer, a 27-year-old administrator at El Camino College in Southern California
, is horrified by the attacks on her nation, which seem far away yet terribly immediate.
11.15.2002: Facer begins Army basic training. After reading My American Journey by Colin Powell, she realized she wanted to make a difference. She's not from a military family, but she has heard too many people criticize what the government did or didn't do leading up to 9/11. The way she sees it, once you recognize a problem, you can be part of the problem or part of the solution. And so she enlisted.
10.3.2003: Facer completes Officer School at Fort Benning, Ga., and is commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Transportation Corps. It's one of the proudest moments of her life; at 29, she believes she has finally found what she wants to do.
12.28.2004: Facer leaves for Iraq as a platoon leader with the 360th Transportation Company out of Fort Carson, Colo. The company will deliver everything from food and water to ammunition and fuel over Iraq's perilous roads.
9.1.2005: Facer, who has led more than 9,000 miles of convoys in Iraq, is injured when a bomb explodes near her vehicle outside Samarra. Thanks in part to her body armor, she appears to have survived the blast with little more than some hearing loss and a sore back.
10.24.2005: Facer is flown to a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Although she returns to duty after the bombing, she has been diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Her memory is failing. Once, she forgot to take key documents with her on a convoy. Her platoon sergeant says she sometimes stops speaking in midsentence for no reason. Next, she'll be flown to Fort Carson for treatment by an Air Force Academy neurologist.
1.1.2006: Facer has come to realize that the initial optimism about the extent of her injuries was premature. Under the care of a neurologist, she learns about traumatic brain injury, which is fast becoming the signature injury of the war. It has left her feeling like a shell of who she was.
7.5.2006: Facer begins five weeks at the Veterans Administration Brain Injury Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Because of short-term memory loss, she's constantly rediscovering the effects of her injury. Each day that realization traumatizes her all over again.
1.21.2007: Facer is promoted to captain. To cope with depression while being treated for her injuries, she has tried to stay positive. Each day she focuses on at least one thing she can do well, like finding the correct size plastic container for leftovers — one of many skills she has had to relearn. Once she had excelled in things like math and softball; now she tries to find encouragement in the smallest achievements.
11.19.2007: A brain scan confirms the severity of Facer's injury. It explains why she often has a hard time finding the right word and has trouble processing new information. She uses two handheld computers, one for appointments she can't remember, the other for mental exercises. She is told her I.Q. has dropped from 133 to 110.
12.25.2007: Facer spends Christmas at her mother's home in Southern California. The family likes to play games such as Trivial Pursuit and Cranium, but Facer, once so sharp, doesn't get any of the answers right. They all laugh; it's that, or cry.
11.15.2008: Facer takes medical retirement from the Army. She feels she can no longer trust her damaged brain, let alone be trusted with the lives of others. She has staked much of her identity on being a soldier; after the bombing, it becomes an even larger part of who she was. Now, she realizes, she has lost even that part of herself.
7.31.2010: Facer is married in Grand Ledge, Mich., to a soldier she met at Fort Carson. Despite her trials, she has found love. Later, the couple settle in Carmel, Ind.
4.17.2011: In a note to USA TODAY, Facer asks,
" Who is Kristin Facer? … I am still searching for an identity. I am still trying to figure out what my 'new' brain and my injured body can and can't do. I am trying to find a way to mourn the loss of who I was before my life was changed one day on a road in Iraq." She continues: "I am proud of my service to my country. I am proud to have played a tiny part in helping Iraq toward democracy, in allowing the Iraqi people an opportunity to vote, in allowing the women to vote. In spite of the challenges and losses that I have and will continue to face, I would do it all over again."
2004 Family photo
President Bush hugs Ashley Faulkner, 15, in the crowd gathered for a Lebanon, Ohio, speech after learning her mother had died in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Ashley Faulkner: A famous hug, fleeting fame
The Mason, Ohio, girl whose mother was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11 comes to national attention when she's hugged by President Bush at a rally in 2004. Told by a neighbor how Ashley lost her mother, Bush stops and pulls her to his chest — a scene her father captures with his camera. The image will have political ramifications for Bush and personal ones for Ashley.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Ashley Faulkner, 13, of Mason, Ohio, loses her mother, Wendy, an Aon Corp. vice president attending a one-day meeting at the World Trade Center. She's consoled by her father, Lynn, and older sister, Loren.
11.7.2001: Lynn Faulkner tries to forget his loss while watching Ashley play soccer. But a second folding chair is stored back in the car, reminding him of Wendy. Ashley's Milford Barracudas tie the Wyoming Hurricanes, 1-1, in what Lynn calls a "terrifically played game." But, he tells TheCincinnati Enquirer, "I was painfully aware it's just me sitting there."
5.6.2004: Ashley and her father attend a campaign appearance by Bush at the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio. Bush is working the rope line when a neighbor of the Faulkners calls out, "This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center!" Bush stops, turns back and hugs Ashley, pulling her head to his chest as Lynn snaps a photo. "The way he was holding me, with my head against his chest, it felt like he was trying to protect me," Ashley tells the Enquirer. "I thought, 'Here is the most powerful guy in the world, and he wants to make sure I'm safe.' I definitely had a couple of tears in my eyes, which is pretty unusual for me." The photo spreads across the media.
7.29.2004: A film crew from the Bush campaign is in Mason to make a political ad featuring Ashley, based on the photograph of her being hugged by Bush. Lynn worries about politicizing his daughter's life. But Wendy was a Bush fan who in 2000 had attended a rally with Ashley. And the moment continues to help Ashley emotionally, Lynn says: She seemed to feel safer when she met Bush than anytime since her mother was killed.
10.19.2004: Bush supporters unveil a 60-second campaign commercial featuring Ashley that will become the year's most expensive TV ad, running on cable stations and in nine battleground states at a cost of $14.2million. The Faulkner family, including Lynn and Loren, agreed to be in the ad, which was shot at their Mason home in late July. In the ad, Ashley says of Bush: "He's the most powerful man in the world, and all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe, that I'm OK."
11.05.2004: Salon.com calls the spot, titled Ashley's Story, "the TV ad that put Bush over the top" in Tuesday's presidential election. Salon's Eric Boehlert writes that "in a campaign known for its negative tone — often fueled by Bush's nasty, deceptive attack TV ads — the commercial, with its heartfelt 9/11 connection, turned out to be an exception: a memorable, motivating, feel-good ad." One exit poll found that the ad was one of three that voters most remembered. Another found that 68% of voters remembered the ad, second only to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads.
1.18.2005: Ashley leaves for Washington to attend the inauguration. The 16-year-old will attend the swearing-in and the parade and will greet guests at a ball for Ohio residents. "She thinks it's kind of neat," her father says.
8.24.2005: The news website Cincinnati.Com records a record 1.8 million page views in one day, stemming from interest in the forced resignation of University of Cincinnati men's basketball coach Bob Huggins. The site's previous high was 1.6 million on May 6, 2004, for the photo of President Bush hugging Ashley.
7.22.2006: Ashley turns 18, old enough to start work as a White House intern in the Office of Presidential Correspondence. She spends some of her time answering calls from people who want to talk to the president.
9.12.2008: Ashley, 20, says her time in the public eye is over. The DePauw University senior says she wants her privacy back. In making the 2004 ad for Bush, she tells The Cincinnati Enquirer, "I went outside my comfort zone because I thought it was important. I thought I could make a difference in the election, and I couldn't vote yet." She has decided not to go to a John McCain rally this week at the same place where she met Bush. This year, she says, "I'll just vote" — for McCain.
4.9.2011: Ashley hangs a copy of the famous photo of her being hugged by Bush in her apartment at Kent State University, where she's pursuing graduate degrees in business and library science. Asked by USA TODAY about the work of the family's charitable foundation, created in memory of Ashley's mother, Wendy, Lynn says Ashley and her sister prefer "no further mention or coverage of their personal or charitable activities relating to or resulting from their mother's murder." Ashley, he says, is "a private person."
Derek Fenton: The right to burn
As the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, powerful emotions are aroused by a plan to build an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, and by a Florida preacher's threat to burn a Quran. Then, on Sept. 11, a public employee lights a match, raising questions of religious freedom and freedom of speech.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2010: A man at a protest against a planned Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero rips pages out of a Quran and lights them on fire. "If they can burn American flags," the man shouts, "I can burn the Quran," witnesses tell the New York Daily News. Police escort the man away but don't arrest him, and he boards a subway train to New Jersey. He won't identify himself but tells The New York Post: "People have the right to build that mosque. They own that property. I wanted to show that I have the right to free speech. Rights are a two-way street." Proponents and opponents of the "Ground Zero mosque" condemn his actions.
9.12.2010: A photo of the man burning pages of the Quran appears in the Daily News. Some readers recognize Derek Fenton of Bloomingdale, N.J. Fenton, 39, is an employee of New Jersey Transit, a state agency. He has worked for the agency for 11 years as a train conductor and coordinator. Earlier, Terry Jones, leader of a small Christian congregation in Florida, had canceled his own plans to burn copies of Islam's holy book.
9.13.2010: Fenton, who was off-duty when he burned pages from the Quran, is fired. He is told his public actions "violated NJ Transit's code of ethics" and his "trust as a state employee." NJ Transit's code says employees may participate in "political activities" as long as they're not explicitly prohibited by the law or agency rules, and they don't conflict with official duties.
9.15.2010: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie backs the firing of Fenton, according to his spokesman. Meanwhile, supporters create a "Help Derek Fenton" Facebook page to find a new job for the father of two.
11.5.2010: The American Civil Liberties Union files suit on behalf of Fenton to get his job back. The lawsuit claims Fenton's constitutional right to free expression was violated and seeks his reinstatement plus monetary damages.
11.8.2010: In an editorial, the conservative New York Post applauds the ACLU for taking Fenton's case. The Post, generally no admirer of the civil liberties group, says it's "doing what the ACLU does best — defending free-speech rights." It adds that the ACLU "rightly notes — as did we at the time — that no one would have raised an eyebrow had Fenton burned an American flag instead of a Koran."
2.10.2011: Christie and several of his top aides were directly informed of Fenton's firing, according to information that emerges at a hearing in Fenton's lawsuit. Lawyers for NJ Transit provide a list of officials who were told of the decision to discharge Fenton.
Deborah Jacobs of the ACLU says she's surprised that, given the state's fiscal and economic woes, the governor was involved: "You would think that New Jersey had better things to do with taxpayer dollars than defend this wrongheaded termination and violation of free speech." Christie has been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for president.
2.15.2011: Christie, in his first public comments on the firing of Fenton, says he's not worried about the free-speech issue involved. "I knew he was going to be fired, and I had no problem with it," Christie tells reporters. "And I still don't have a problem with it. … That kind of intolerance is something I think is unacceptable. You've got to make decisions in this job. I made one." But he says he did not ask that Fenton be fired.
4.21.2011: Fenton will get his job back and receive $25,000 for pain and suffering when he does. In addition to being able to resume his $86,110-a-year job, Fenton will receive back pay equal to $331.20 for every day since his firing on Sept. 13. The state will pay $25,000 in legal fees to the ACLU.
In a statement, Fenton says, "Our government cannot pick and choose whose free-speech rights are protected." The Council on American-Islamic Relations agrees, says spokesman Ibrahim Hooper: "Whatever he did, however reprehensible, should not impact on his employment."
By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY
Worried mom: Talat Hamdani slept on the living room floor for months after 9/11, waiting against hope for her missing son's return.
The Hamdani family
Salman Hamdani was born in Pakistan and moved to America with his family in 1980, when he was 1 year old. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, he leaves home for his job in Manhattan. When he vanishes, he becomes the subject of a furious search by his family and slurs by anonymous accusers. His mother, Talat, feels victimized by fellow Muslims who killed Salman and by fellow Americans who doubt a Muslim died a hero. As the decade ends, Talat again sees anti-Muslim feelings aroused.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Salman Hamdani, 23, leaves his family's home in Queens, heading to his job as a lab tech at Rockefeller University on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He has a Quran in his backpack. From the elevated subway tracks, he must see the smoking World Trade Center towers. He's an emergency medical technician and has been in the NYPD's police cadet program, a sort of ROTC for kids who want to go into law enforcement. He can go to work, or he can head downtown and try to use his credentials to get to the site and try to help.
10.11.2001: Hamdani's parents board a flight to Mecca where they will pray for the return of their son, who has been missing for a month. They have searched frantically for him since he did not come home the night of 9/11. They've visited hospitals, checked the morgue, posted "missing" fliers. (Some were ripped down.) They believe he used his EMT and police cadet credentials to get to the disaster scene. But they just don't know.
10.12.2001: A New York Post headline asks whether Salman Hamdani is "missing — or hiding." The paper reports that investigators have issued "an urgent 'hold and detain' order for the Pakistani native" and asked his relatives about Internet chat rooms he visited and whether he was political. A source tells the Post the line of questioning "tells me they're not looking for this guy at the bottom of the rubble. The thing that bothers me is, if he is up to some tricks, he can walk past anybody (using an ID card)." Meanwhile, someone has distributed fliers with Salman's photo, saying he's wanted for questioning. Police later say they know nothing about the fliers.
3.20.2002: Two police officers arrive at the Hamdani home to tell Salman's parents that his remains have been identified in the wreckage of the Trade Center. Talat Hamdani, his mother, has left the front door unlocked for months and slept on the living room floor, waiting against hope for her son's return.
4.05.2002: Salman Hamdani is praised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his funeral at a Manhattan mosque. "We have an example of how one can make the world better," the mayor says. "Salman stood up when most people would have gone in the other direction. He went in and helped people."
7.22.2004: Saleem Hamdani, Salman's father, dies. The medical cause is cancer, but his wife feels he died of a broken heart after losing his son; she regards him as another casualty of 9/11. Saleem Hamdani brought his family to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1980. He owned a convenience store.
11.19.2009: Talat Hamdani supports the Obama administration's decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other accused terrorists in federal court in New York, instead of in a military proceeding at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Hamdani tells CNN: "I trust my justice system, the Constitution, which has been in force in the last 230 years, and I want them tried at home. My son was murdered here, and I want to see them go to trial here, and I want to attend each and every single day."
5.26.2010: Talat defends plans for an Islamic center and mosque proposed near Ground Zero. When she gets up before a raucous crowd at a Lower Manhattan community planning board hearing, she's so nervous that she feels as if she's shaking. But she speaks up: "The mosque at Ground Zero is essential to bring healing to our divided nation. We have to rise above this. We are not at war with the Islam world." She says she forced herself to speak out in memory of her son.
8.19.2010: Talat says anti-Muslim bias explains much of the opposition to an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero. Appearing on CNN, she says Muslims have been assigned "collective guilt" for the attacks, even though they were among its victims: "Since 9/11, the Muslims are being scapegoated … and we are as much the citizens of this country as any other people." She says she supports the mosque because it's a test of tolerance and because its proponents have a constitutional right to build it.
3.10.2011: Talat attends the House Homeland Security Committee hearings in Washington on "Radicalization in the American Muslim Community." The hearings were called by U.S. Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., like Hamdani a Long Islander. She is recognized in the audience by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the only Muslim member of Congress. Ellison opposes the hearings, which he says are "contrary to the best American values." He says the nation needs "increased understanding and engagement with the Muslim community in order to keep America safe."
By H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY
Back in the swing: It took several years, but Luticia Hook is back bowling with her 12-pound ball.
Luticia Hook: Fighting her way back
"Tick" Hook thought she worked in the world's safest building — until the attack on the Pentagon destroyedher office, killed her friends and pushed her into a confrontation with God and the limitations of disability.
By Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Luticia "Tick" Hook, 53, is at work at the Pentagon's Army Information Management Support Center. She has worked there since 1973, and she plans to retire on Dec. 31, 2002. She considers the Pentagon the safest place in the world. Just before 9 a.m., her husband calls to tell her a plane has hit the World Trade Center. Hook and four co-workers watch on TV as a second plane hits the south tower. She realizes things at the Pentagon are going to get very, very busy and decides to run quickly to the bank. She wants to open an account for her bowling league; she has just become treasurer. "Where are you going?" a manager, Lt. Col. Dean Mattson, asks her. "To a meeting," she snaps, and hurries out the back way. To go the front way would mean running into too many people who want to chat. It's a decision that saves her life. She is in a hallway when American Airlines Flight 77 smashes into the Pentagon. Tick finds herself in a burning passageway, slipping in water from the sprinklers. The new suit she is wearing is wet, and she is on fire. She is alternately cursing and calling on God to help her.
10.19.2001: Tick emerges from a fog of painkillers and is able to talk to her husband, Anthony, who has been with her daily at the Washington Hospital Center's burn unit. Her arms, legs and left side are badly burned. A big piece of flesh is missing from her left hip. She learns that Anthony and their children, Yolanda and Anthony Jr., had to give doctors permission to amputate the irreparably damaged fingers of her left hand. Tick asks whether Mike Selves, the director of her office, has been to see her. Both born in 1947, they were office buddies and exchanged Christmas and birthday gifts. Anthony tells her that Selves and the three others who were in her office on Sept. 11 are dead.
10.21.2001: Tick spends her 54th birthday in the burn unit and her family throws a celebration, bringing potato salad, deviled eggs and fried chicken to a patient lounge at the hospital. But Tick is in too much pain to stay at the party. Her pain is so great, she decides to stop eating entirely. Her family bribes her: If she gains weight, they will bring her adored grandson, Adonis, 10, to visit. It works.
12.18.2001: After more than three months in the burn unit, where she has struggled to learn to walk again despite her badly burned legs, Tick returns to her brick row house in Washington, D.C. She is so different that her dog, an Akita named Marco, growls at her. Being back in her own kitchen for the first time since September makes her cry. She can still barely climb stairs, but she refuses to consider altering the house to put a bedroom on the ground floor.
2.13.2002: The Rotary Club of Washington, D.C., divides $40,000 among Tick and the families of six local residents killed in the terrorist attacks. Tick's daughter, Yolanda, uses the gift to pay off Tick's credit card debt and then cuts up all her cards. "Who gave you the right to do that?" Tick demands. "I gave myself the right," Yolanda says. It was the fourth time Tick had gotten deep into credit card debt, and she vows it will never happen again. "God showed me the way, and I thank him every single day for doing it," Tick says.
4.7.2002: For the first time, Tick is able to return to church, the Life Changing Church in Temple Hills, Md. When she comes in, accompanied by her family, the congregation stands and applauds. "You got family, you love them, you tell that family that," she tells everyone. "Because you could be here, and the next second, you're gone."
9.11.2002: At the anniversary remembrance at the Pentagon, a young Army sergeant approaches Tick and tells her that on the day of the terrorist attack, he helped carry her stretcher to the ambulance. She feels her legs turn to rubber. "Would you mind sitting down with me and letting me know exactly what happened?" she asks. He explains that the stretcher went through a tunnel under the highway because helicopter evacuation had been halted over fears of another incoming plane. This clears up the mystery of why Tick thought she had been injured while she was in a tunnel. "You don't know how it is really helping me," she tells him.
9.6.2003: Tick tries to go back to bowling. She can't lift her 12-pound ball, so she switches to an 8-pounder, which she regards as a defeat. She is so exhausted after bowling that she can't get out of bed to go to church the next morning. She gives it up.
10.30.2004: More than 125 people gather for a "Celebration of Life" party that Tick throws to say "thank-you!" and "I'm happy to be alive!" Over seafood creole and roast beef, her family, friends and co-workers alternately praise and tease her about her legendary attitude, including the sign over her desk in the Pentagon that read, "I only have one nerve left, and you just got on it."
March 2006: Tick undergoes her 15th surgery, to relieve intense pain in what remains of her left hand. Her doctor, Marion Jordan, also inserts a wedge between her palm and the stub of her thumb, so she can now pick up papers and small items. Tick hates taking drugs, but has too much pain to stop. "That's telling us you may have to be on this medicine for the rest of your life," her pain doctor, Lee Ann Rhodes, says. "It may be telling you, but it's not telling me that," Tick retorts.
9.8.2007: After a lot of prodding from her family, Tick tries bowling again. With her friend Daryl, she joins the New Macedonia Church Bowling League. She's pleased to find she can fit into her old bowling shoes and lift her 12-pound ball. Her team takes first place, and she's pleased with that, too.
10.30.2007: Tick begins volunteering at the burn unit of Washington Hospital Center as a peer counselor in a program run by the Phoenix Society, a group for burn survivors. Before she gets out of her car, in the hospital parking lot, she prays. "God, be with me and give me the correct words to say for whatever person I have to visit," she asks.
10.18.2008: Tick and Anthony buy a one-story brick rambler in Maryland. Tick's weakened and scarred legs just can't manage the stairs in their house in Washington, D.C., but she has resisted the change. She already has said goodbye to her red Chevy Cavalier, because it is too low for her to get in and out. "They used to call me the Red Dynamite Grandma. I had to give up that. I had to give up the use of a left hand. The only thing that I had to hold on to was my house."
1.1.2009: Tick and Anthony host their extended families for New Year's Day dinner. Before 9/11, it had been an annual event. She serves ribs, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and black-eyed peas, the traditional New Year's good-luck food. Tick is happy to be able to host again — but she knows that between her diminished strength and her inability to let others help, she won't be able to have it every year. To every offer of, "I got this," she replies, "No, I want to do it myself."
9.16.2009: On Mike Selves' birthday, she visits for the first time a chapel that has been built in the Pentagon in the area that was destroyed by the 9/11 attack. She visits a conference room where her old office had been. Suddenly the fire alarm goes off. Loudspeakers blare, "This is a test." But it is too much for Tick. "Got to go!" she says, and hurries out of the building as fast as she can.
5.7.2011: Tick goes to pick up Adonis, now 20, at George Mason University for the weekend. When she was in the hospital, he recorded a tape for her, praying for her and asking her to please do what the nurses told her to. Now, she's unhappy he didn't call when the news of Osama bin Laden's killing broke. He says he wanted to see her face when they discussed it. For perhaps the second time in his life, Tick lets her grandson see her cry. "Sometimes it's like you're on fire, and he just brings the water to put it out."
7.5.2011: "I hope and I pray that the old Tick never comes back, not 100%. I'm a better person. When I was in that (Pentagon) hallway trying to get out, falling, I would cuss and then I would ask God to bless me, ask him again and curse more. I never believed people when they said that God came and talked to them. But, take it from me, it's true. The first time I realized that he talks to me was in that hallway. He told me, 'You are not ready for me. If I take you now you would not come to heaven. Before I save you, I'm going to cleanse your mouth. You've got a filthy mouth.' As of this day, July 5, 2011, I have not said a curse word since 9/11/01. Almost 10 years. That's a blessing and a half for me."
By Matt Moyer, AP
Tribute: A poster of Mychal Judge went up outside Engine Company 1, Ladder Company 24 in NYC.
The Rev. Mychal Judge: Victim 0001
A photographer documents firemen carrying the Rev. Mychal Judge's body from Ground Zero on 9/11, producing an image that some will call an American Pietà. In death, Judge's legend grows, new facets of his life emerge, and some call him a saint.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: The Rev. Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest and New York Fire Department chaplain, rushes to the World Trade Center, where he dies amid falling debris after administrating last rites to a fallen firefighter. He's listed as Victim 0001, the first recorded fatality in the attacks. A photographer snaps a shot of ash-covered firemen carrying the priest's body from the wreckage, producing what will prove to be one of the tragedy's most enduring images.
9.15.2001: Judge's funeral is held at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi , across the street from a firehouse that lost seven firefighters. Mayor Rudy Giuliani calls Judge a saint. The eulogist, the Rev. Michael Duffy, says Judge used to tell him to ask him what he needed. When Duffy did, he'd reply, "Absolutely nothing. … I am the happiest man on the face of the Earth."
11.12.2001: New York magazine reports that Judge was gay, although apparently — as a Roman Catholic priest — celibate. New York Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen says, "I actually knew about his homosexuality when I was in the Uniformed Firefighters Association. I kept the secret, but then he told me when I became commissioner five years ago. He and I often laughed about it, because we knew how difficult it would have been for the other firefighters to accept it as easily as I had. I just thought he was a phenomenal, warm, sincere man, and the fact that he was gay just had nothing to do with anything."
3.16.2002: Judge is grand marshal of the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade, the first time the honor has been bestowed posthumously. When the lead float honoring Judge arrives at the reviewing stand, President Bush and Mayor Richard Daley stand at attention as a bagpipe band plays Amazing Grace. The crowd then chants, "USA, USA!"
4.15.2002: Burt Kearns, a former tabloid TV producer for A Current Affair and Hard Copy, created a website to advocate for the canonization of Judge. "He died a martyr," Kearns says. "Everyone I talk to thinks he's a saint."
4.26.2002: Speaking at St. Bonaventure University in southwestern New York, a leader of the Franciscan religious community criticizes the "rush to canonize" Judge. The Rev. John Felice, who accepts a medal awarded to Judge, says: "There is a rush to canonize Mychal these days, and I think it is a mistake. In making saints out of people, we often shove them away from our experience and place them on a pedestal. He was a very human, flawed, complex person, just like the rest of us. His real legacy is to teach us that such is the stuff of greatness."
6.26.2002: President Bush signs The Mychal Judge Act, marking the first time the federal government has extended equal benefits for same-sex couples. It allows domestic partners of fire and police force members, including chaplains, who are killed in the line of duty to collect their federal death benefit.
2.20.2003: The father of an autistic child says the boy's condition improved after his parents prayed to Judge. Scott Brown says his 4-year-old son, Matthew, did not speak well, wouldn't respond to certain noises and could hardly look people in the eye. After the family prayed to Judge that God loosen Matt's tongue, "the positive outcome … was almost instantaneous," says Brown, a Newport, R.I., firefighter. "For someone who was so silent and would never make eye contact with you, he's like a different child. … I can't help but to say that it is miraculous."
2.24.2003: Critics of a gay-organized St. Patrick's Day parade in Queens object to organizers claiming Judge as one of their own. Pat Hurley, a Queens resident, tells Newsday, "I knew a lot of people that knew Father Mychal Judge and they never saw any inkling of his being gay." Judge was a member of Dignity, an organization of gay Catholics that is not recognized by the church hierarchy.
4.17.2006: The documentary Saint of 9/11, narrated by actor Ian McKellen, premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The subject is Judge. The film begins with an interview in which Judge said, "You wonder what your last hour of life could be. Will I be doing something for someone, trying to save a life?" Shortly before he was killed, Judge administered the church's last rites to a firefighter. A fellow Franciscan says, "This is how Mychal would have prayed to have the last minutes of his life transpire."
9.2.2008: A new biography of Judge says he did not reveal his homosexual orientation to firefighters because he felt he had to be whom they needed him to be. "The very fact he could inspire them to believe (in Christ) caused him to fear that if he broke that spell (by revealing his sexual orientation) they would feel betrayed and lose their faith," writes author Michael Daly, a friend of Judge's. The book says that in his later years, Judge had a romantic relationship with a male Filipino nurse 30 years his junior. The book also describes Judge's tense relationship with, and disdain for, New York Cardinal John O'Connor.
4.15.2009: New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, in his first homily after assuming office, mentions Judge in the same sentence as two American saints, Elizabeth Ann Seton and Frances Xavier Cabrini. He says that Christ is alive in the church's "consecrated religious women and men," such as Seton, Cabrini and Judge.
5.11.2011: Judge's 78th birthday. His resting place at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Totowa, N.J., has only a simple horizontal marker, but the grave site stands out from the others in the Franciscan order's plot. It's adorned with figurines of fat friars and firemen; rosary beads; flowers real and artificial; and various pins, including one that reads, "Brothers in Faith Shall Do Great Deeds." The plot is near the cemetery gate on Union Avenue. Less than a mile away, at 486 Union, is the apartment where two of the 9/11 hijackers lived. Their visitors included Mohammed Atta, who piloted a jetliner into the north tower, where Judge died.
By Mark Wilson, Getty Images
President Bush posthumously presents the Medal of Honor to Daniel and
Michael Murphy: Into the Valley of Death
A Navy commando determined to strike at those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, Lt. Michael Murphygoes to Afghanistan and tracks a Taliban commander. He makes an agonizing decision and dies heroically.He's part of a U.S. effort to push the Taliban from the Korengal Valley near Pakistan. But after establishing several outposts at the cost of more than 40 American lives, the U.S. reconsiders its stand in the "Valley of Death."
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Ensign Michael Murphy, 25, watches the terror attacks on TV in California, where he is in basic training for the Navy SEALs, an elite special operations corps. Murphy's boyhood friends on Long Island, N.Y., Owen and Jimmie O'Callaghan, are New York City police officers; their uncle Dan is a fire lieutenant. As Murphy watches, his drill instructor barks: "Gentlemen, this changes everything. We're going to war!"
10.18.2001: Murphy completes basic training. Since 9/11, he has learned that the O'Callaghans' Uncle Dan died at the World Trade Center. Murphy figures that as a SEAL he's in a position to go after those responsible for the attacks. By the time he earns his Trident badge in April 2002, Murphy has subtly changed, says fellow SEAL Ben Sauers. He's quieter, more intense, as if he internalized 9/11.
12.26.2003: On home leave, Murphy takes his girlfriend, Heather Duggan, to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Duggan is sick, but Murphy insists they go. In the middle of the crowd, he drops to one knee, pulls out a ring and asks Duggan to marry him. They set a date: Nov. 19, 2005.
3.16.2005: Murphy is home on Long Island for a week before what he expects to be a dangerous assignment in Iraq. He's not into planning his wedding. He admits his mind is elsewhere; says it has to be.
4.4.2005: Murphy flies to Bahrain with his SEAL unit. He assumes he's bound for Iraq, but is told he's going to Afghanistan. Murphy brings along the red-and-orange patch of the New York Fire Department company of Owen O'Callaghan, who became a fireman after 9/11.
5.8.2005: Murphy e-mails his mother, Maureen, a photo of his unit holding a handmade sign that says "Happy Mother's Day." On his right sleeve, he wears the red-and-orange patch of Owen O'Callaghan's fire company.
6.3.2005: Taliban militia led by Ahmad Shah ambush and kill three Marines in southeastern Afghanistan. The Marines ask the U.S. special operations command to go after Shah.
6.17.2005: In an e-mail to relatives, Murphy says only that he's been busy: "Things are going well, I like it out here and we are doing a lot." In fact, he's about to embark on Operation Red Wing, the mission to find Ahmad Shah. Then U.S. forces plan to drive the Taliban from the Korengal Valley, a 6-mile-long, rocky, thickly wooded refuge near the Pakistani border.
6.25.2005: Shah issues a statement threatening U.S. forces. Meanwhile, Murphy prepares to go track him down; it's to be his last mission on this tour of duty. A fellow SEAL, Marcus Lutrell, figures it's "payback time for the World Trade Center."
6.27.2005: Murphy, Lutrell and two other SEALs are dropped by helicopter at night into rugged terrain in eastern Afghanistan.
6.28.2005: Murphy and the other three SEALs are surrounded by enemy fighters. They flee down a steep hillside, but are pinned down. Murphy, already wounded, risks his life to go into the open amid heavy fire to call for air rescue. But the troop transport helicopter that responds is shot down, killing all 16 men aboard — the biggest single U.S. loss to date in Afghanistan. Back home, Murphy's father, Daniel, doesn't connect the news to his son, who he thinks is in Iraq. He wonders whether Mike knew any of the SEALs who were killed.
7.4.2005: U.S. soldiers find Murphy's body. He had been shot at least seven times. There are bullet holes in his arm, leg, abdomen, back and below his left eye. That night, on Long Island, a naval officer tells Murphy's parents, Dan and Maureen, ending their week-long wait for definitive word.
7.5.2005: Murphy's parents attend the arrival of his body at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Standing on the tarmac, they watch as his flag-draped coffin is lowered from a cargo plane. Maureen imagines Michael, in his dress whites, walking over, putting his arms around them and saying, "I'm home."
7.13.2005: Lt. Michael Murphy is buried at Calverton National Cemetery in New York. He is not interred with the fire company patch he was wearing on his right sleeve when he was killed; that will be cleaned, framed and hung at Owen O'Callaghan's East Harlem firehouse.
11.19.2005: This was to have been the wedding day of Heather Duggan and Michael Murphy. Duggan is at home on Long Island, grieving. Murphy's parents go separately to the cemetery; each leaves something on their son's gravestone.
12.27.2005: Shah says he knew that when the SEAL unit sent to stalk him was pinned down, reinforcements would be sent. He tells NBC News his men were waiting: "When the American Army comes under pressure and they get hit, they will try to help their friends."
6.11.2007: Murphy and his SEALs were accidentally discovered by some Afghan goat herders shortly before they were ambushed, according to the attack's lone survivor. Marcus Lutrell says the shepherds stumbled onto their four-man team, forcing them to make a decision: kill the shepherds to safeguard the mission, or let them go and risk their alerting the enemy. Lutrell says he cast the deciding vote, siding with Murphy that, as civilians, the herders should be let go. On Today, Lutrell says he regrets his vote: "It'd be worth me doing some time in prison if my buddies were still alive."
6.13.2007: Murphy's father says Lutrell's account of a unit vote on what to do with the shepherds does a disservice to his son. Daniel Murphy says his son, as unit leader, "wouldn't put that up for committee. People who knew Michael know that he was decisive." He believes his son consulted his men, but never put the decision to a vote.
10.11.2007: The White House announces that Murphy will receive the first Medal of Honor issued for service in the war in Afghanistan. Eleven days later, President Bush presents the medal to Murphy's parents at the White House.
4.14.2008: Ahmad Shah is killed in a shootout with police in northwestern Pakistan.
4.14.2010: Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez says the U.S. is withdrawing from the Korengal Valley, where, in the past five years, more than 40 U.S. troops have been killed. Dan Murphy supports the decision. He feels Michael's service was part of a larger plan to target individuals, not to take and hold land.
5.7.2011: Maureen Murphy christens the destroyer USS Michael Murphy at the Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine on what would have been his 35th birthday. "I just want to say, 'Happy birthday, Baby,'" Maureen says.
By Mary Altaffer, AP
Firefighters salute as the coffin carrying the remains of New York City firefighter Michael Ragusa is taken from St. Bernards church after funeral services Sept. 8, 2003, in New York.
Dee and Vincent Ragusa: A decent burial
The Brooklyn, N.Y., couple lose their firefighter son, Michael, on 9/11 and feel they must wait until his remainsare recovered before they can give him a funeral and decent burial. The search at Ground Zero is navailing.But at an unexpected time and place, they realize they have something to bury.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Firefighter Michael Ragusa is killed at the World Trade Center along with 342 other members of the New York Fire Department.
11.22.2001: Dee and Vincent Ragusa spend Thanksgiving alone in their Brooklyn home, where their son resided until his death. Dee has told her other children she still doesn't feel like cooking, let alone making the usual big turkey dinner. In fact, she hasn't opened her oven since 9/11; Vincent has become the cook. The Ragusas are still waiting for recovery and identification of Michael's remains before having a funeral.
10.1.2002: Michael Ragusa is the only firefighter lost on 9/11 not to have had a funeral or memorial service. None of his remains has been found. It's been almost a year since his best friend in the department, Carl Molinaro of Ladder Company 2, who also died at the Trade Center, was laid to rest.
Dee knows some people wonder why she's waiting so long for a funeral. Her answer: "There's no rush."
10.28.2002: Dee and Vincent, acknowledging the obvious and bowing to the requirements of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, apply for a death certificate for Michael. But with no remains to bury, they continue to delay a funeral or memorial service. Dee's thinking: "I'm waiting for them to say, 'We've run the gamut, it's over and we can't ID the bodies anymore.'"
11.19.2002: Dee and Vincent attend a meeting at a church hall on Staten Island to hear a talk by Robert Shaler, chief of forensic medicine for the New York medical examiner's office. Shaler talks about how the remains of their son and most of those lost on 9/11 remain unrecovered or unidentified. But he mentions in passing that some firefighters had given blood in order to become potential bone marrow donors.
Dee and Vincent stare at each other: That's what Michael had done. For the first time, they realize that even if nothing is found in the rubble of Ground Zero, they may have something to bury.
7.6.2003: Dee and Vincent attend the marriage of their youngest son, Kenneth, in Jamaica. Despite their realization that they now have something of Michael to bury — a vial of blood he donated years earlier — Dee hasn't wanted Michael's funeral to overshadow Kenneth's wedding. Now, the way is clear for the last New York City 9/11 Fire Department funeral.
7.30.2003: On what would have been Michael's 31st birthday, Dee and Vincent drive to a Red Cross blood bank to retrieve the vial of blood he donated years earlier, the only remaining identifiable trace of him.
As they drive home, the couple pass Brooklyn Hospital, where Michael was born in 1972. It hits them: In a way, they're taking him home again.
8.29.2003: With the date for her son's funeral set, Dee and Vincent inform the New York medical examiner's office that henceforth, even if remains of Michael Ragusa are found, they should not be notified. "If you find something after the funeral, don't tell me; I don't want to know," Dee says.
9.8.2003: Michael Ragusa becomes the 343rd and final member of the New York City Fire Department lost on 9/11 to have a funeral. "Today's service marks a small but significant step in our healing," Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta tells mourners at St. Bernard's Church in Brooklyn. Scoppetta calls Ragusa "the last of the bravest." His coffin contains only a uniform and the vial of blood he once donated to a blood bank. On the altar is a model of the race car driven by Dale Earnhardt Sr. and the logo for Foster's beer — Ragusa's favorite brew.
12.31.2004: Jennifer Trapani, Michael's former fiancée, has married and lives near Dee and Vincent in Brooklyn. Jennifer and Dee occasionally bump into each other and say they'll get together, but they never do.
"It's just too emotional," Dee says. "Too painful."
"She moved on," Vincent says of Jennifer, who was 22 on 9/11, "which is good."
2.27.2008: John Dewey High School in Brooklyn renames its library the Firefighter Michael Ragusa Media Center, in honor of the member of the Class of 1992.
6.10.2011: Dewey High awards three college-bound seniors $1,025 Michael Ragusa Memorial Scholarships, funded by Dee and Vincent. "They're not the usual kind of scholarships," Vincent explains. "They're for kids who were screw-ups at the beginning of high school, but eventually realized what they had to do and turned it around. That was more or less what Michael did."
Dee says her life's purpose is to keep his memory, and his name, alive.
Matthew Ridout watched the 9/11 attacks at his high school in southern Virginia.
Matthew Ridout: A conversion and a calling
A young man watches the 9/11 attacks on TV at his high school in southern Virginia and is determined afterward to serve in the military and to learn more about the attackers' culture and creed. Those impulses propel him through the decade, taking him in unexpected vocational and spiritual directions.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Matthew Ridout, a junior at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Va., watches the 9/11 attacks on TV. Students in his classroom, which lacks cable, take apart a spiral notebook and make an antenna.
9.14.2001: Thomas Dale students observe a moment of silence for the victims of the attacks. Teachers and students weep openly as God Bless America plays over the public address system. Ridout, who has always dreamed of a military career, is both appalled and intrigued by the attacks. He wants to learn more about why those men committed such a crime, and what they believe.
10.5.2001: Ridout is at football practice two days before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. His teammates are confident the U.S. will "kick ass" and be done in a few months. Ridout hopes they're right.
1.30.2002: Ridout has visited a Marines recruiter to discuss enlisting after graduation. Although his family wants Ridout to go to college, the 9/11 attacks have made him feel it's more important than ever to participate in the national defense. The attacks also have aroused his interest in Arab culture and Islam — in part because he wants to be an intelligence officer.
3.13.2003: Ridout worries about the impending invasion of Iraq. He believes Americans are blindly following the president into an unnecessary war in the name of patriotism. "Iraq will be our next Vietnam," he tells a friend at track practice. His pal disagrees: "We're going to be in and out." After the invasion, Ridout decides to put off joining the military. He enters Roanoke College in Salem, Va., where he hopes to learn more about Islam.
1.12.2004: Start of second semester at Roanoke College. Ridout is enrolled in "Introduction to Islam." As a Christian growing up in the Bible Belt, he knows almost nothing about Islam. But he thinks it might prepare him for a career as an intelligence officer.
4.19.2004: Last day of classes. Ridout completes course work for "Intro to Islam," which has been a revelation. He's attracted to what he sees as Islam's focus on peace, tolerance and justice. He's surprised by how much Islam has in common with Christianity, yet finds it free of some Christian doctrines he can't accept. He wants to learn more.
10.4.2005: The beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Ridout's first as a Muslim. He formally converted in his dorm room one day in March, reciting the Islamic profession of faith: "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger."
9.13.2006: Ridout is disappointed by his campus's tepid response to the fifth anniversary of 9/11. He helped organize remembrance ceremonies, but only a few people showed up.
5.5.2007: Ridout graduates with plans to work for Habitat for Humanity in Columbia, S.C. There, for the first time, he'll begin attending Friday prayers at a mosque.
12.1.2008: On his 24th birthday, Ridout reports for boot camp at the Navy's Great Lakes training center near Chicago. He has joined the Navy Reserve, realizing a longtime goal of serving in the military. He hopes the flexibility of the Reserve will allow him to continue his study of religion.
9.13.2010: Ridout begins classes at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. He is pursuing a master's degree in religious studies and hopes eventually to get his doctorate and teach college. He feels his conversion to Islam led to a deeper curiosity about religion.
10.15.2010: Ridout learns from a fellow Navy reservist that another unit will go to Afghanistan next year. He is asked whether he knows anyone in his own unit who would want to volunteer. He says yes: "Me!" Although he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he thinks intervention in Afghanistan — where Osama bin Laden was based — is justified. Ridout has been in the Reserve for two years and hasn't experienced discrimination because of his Muslim faith. But most who meet him — a white man from the Bible Belt — don't suspect what his religion is.
5.5.2011: End of second semester at Hartford Seminary, where Ridout has completed a year's work toward his master's in religious studies. He hopes to return in 2012 to finish work toward his degree. But he'll spend the next year with his Navy Reserve military police unit in Afghanistan, where as a petty officer 3rd class he'll guard detainees — many of them Muslims like himself. He remembers the harm done by U.S. military jailers who abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq; he says that can't happen again.
By Eileen Blass, USA TODAY
Stands by his work: Amiri Baraka says Somebody Blew Up America "aims to probe and disturb, but there is not any evidence of anti-Semitism."
Amiri Baraka: A poet laureate loses his post
The poet-activist watches the twin towers fall on 9/11 and writes a poem that will inject him — and the postof New Jersey poet laureate — into a public debate that illustrates what can and cannot be said about the attacks.
By Blake Morrison and Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Amiri Baraka, a radical African-American poet and political activist once known as LeRoi Jones, watches from the third-floor bathroom window of his home in Newark as the World Trade Center towers burn and fall.
10.01.2001: Baraka begins to distribute a poem he has just finished, Somebody Blew Up America. The reception from friends and colleagues is "positive," he will recall.
7.27.2002: Baraka attends a ceremony at the New Jersey governor's mansion in Princeton, where he is named the state's first poet laureate by Gov. James McGreevey. The title comes with a $10,000 honorarium. Baraka tells McGreevey: "You must not read poetry" — an allusion to the radical viewpoints in his writing. McGreevey's response: "I can handle it."
9.19.2002: At the Dodge Poetry Festival at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, N.J., Baraka performs Somebody Blew Up America. He is approached by a woman who tells him the poem is "hateful." She cites lines from it that contend that Israel knew the 9/11 attacks were coming.
9.20.2002: On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly blasts Baraka for Somebody Blew Up America. Calling the poet a "pinhead," O'Reilly says Baraka is "full of racism, full of anti-Semitism." "Every Jewish person tonight watching this in New Jersey is going, 'I don't want that guy to get a nickel'" of the poet laureate's honorarium, O'Reilly says.
9.27.2002: The Anti-Defamation League writes to McGreevey to complain about Baraka's Somebody Blew Up America, especially this passage: "Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed/Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers/To stay home that day/Why did Sharon stay away?" The ADL says it implies "that Israel was somehow involved in the terrorist plot."
10.02.2002: During a contentious television interview about Somebody Blew Up America, Baraka continues to maintain that Israel, the U.S. and other nations knew of the 9/11 attacks beforehand. "You have an obligation not to foment hatred," CNN anchor Connie Chung tells Baraka. "My responsibility is to truth and beauty," Baraka responds. "What is hatred?" Asked for his source of information, Baraka says: "There is any number of articles on the Internet."
10.03.2002: Baraka says he won't accede to a request by the governor that he step down as state poet laureate. Baraka says Somebody Blew Up America "is a poem that aims to probe and disturb, but there is not any evidence of anti-Semitism."
10.06.2002: McGreevey plans to seek authority from state lawmakers to strip Baraka of his title as state poet laureate. The governor's staff works with lawmakers to draft a bill that "would give the governor power to terminate the reign of the current poet laureate."
11.21.2002: The Newark school board creates a new position — school district poet laureate — and appoints Baraka, an act characterized by The New York Times as "an act of defiance aimed at the state's political establishment."
7.02.2003: Baraka, who has refused to resign as poet laureate, becomes the first and last New Jersey poet laureate when McGreevey signs a bill that eliminates the position.
11.13.2007: While attending a book fair in Venezuela, Baraka hears that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider whether his First Amendment rights were violated when New Jersey lawmakers eliminated the position of poet laureate in 2003 with him in it. After hearing the news, Baraka performs Somebody Blew Up America.
1.27.2011: Baraka speaks to several hundred people at the University of Virginia as part of the school's Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration. Baraka, 76, tells how his first meeting with King (who had come to his front door) in 1968 was captured in a photograph that hung for many years in Newark City Hall, but that it was taken down after he wrote Somebody Blew up America— which he proceeds to read, while periodically drumming on the lectern and interjecting a jazzy tune.
Baraka's website, with both the disputed poem and his self-defense: www.thetalkingdrum.com/amiri.html
By Spencer Platt, Getty Images
Police salute the casket bearing the remains of
James Zadroga: The air at Ground Zero
A New York City police detective rushes to Ground Zero on 9/11 to search through the smoky wreckage of the World Trade Center. He spends 470 hours over three weeks on the pile. Afterward, his health begins to fail, and he eventually becomes the face of the fight to provide treatment for thousands of workers who breathed the debris-filled air. Yet the cause of Zadroga's own death becomes the subject of debate.
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
9.11.2001: Detective James Zadroga, just off an overnight shift, rushes back to the city from his home upstate after learning of the World Trade Center attack. His pregnant wife begs him not to go. He says he has to. He later says he left her crying in the driveway.
9.18.2001: EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman says her agency's study of air quality at Ground Zero after the collapse of the World Trade Center allows her to reassure New Yorkers "that their air is safe to breathe" and that any pollutants "don't pose a health hazard." Meanwhile, Zadroga and thousands of others work in the recovery-removal operation. Some have respirators. Some, like Zadroga, wear paper masks. Some use nothing.
10.2.2001: Zadroga, a nine-year New York Police Department veteran and a non-smoker with no history of respiratory ailments, has spent hundreds of hours over the past three weeks working at Ground Zero. He has a chronic cough and feels as though he has the flu, he tells his father.
11.1.2001: Birth of Tyler Ann Zadroga, first child of Ronda and James Zadroga. The new father is increasingly short of breath and often calls in sick.
12.15.2002: Zadroga has been classified a "habitual sick time user." He must drive periodically from home to a police medical office in Queens to be checked out. Over time, he gets into several auto accidents en route — the result, he says, of passing out at the wheel. He says police officials won't admit that his sickness stems from toxic dust at Ground Zero.
9.1.2002: To help his father-in-law, a minister, with a 9/11 anniversary sermon, Zadroga writes down his memories of working at Ground Zero. In addition to suffering from severe respiratory problems, he says, he is anxious, has trouble sleeping and has nightmares when he does. "The site was like nothing I've ever seen before. The dust (was) so thick you couldn't read your partner's shield standing next to you," he writes.
"We started looking for survivors or even bodies, but the soot was so thick you couldn't tell if you were standing on a piece of steel or a human arm. … All you could find was pieces and pieces … of what once was a human. … No one I knew was mentally prepared to see what we came across."
2.16.2003: Zadroga, now on long-term disability leave, moves with his wife and daughter to a farm near his wife's parents in Arcadia, Fla.
10.12.2003: Ronda Zadroga dies suddenly in Arcadia at age 29. Her in-laws blame the strain of their son's long illness and his contentious dealings with the police medical board, which denies a connection between his health problems and work at Ground Zero.
5.1.2004: The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 awards Zadroga more than $1 million after concluding that his exposure to dust at Ground Zero caused respiratory illness. Over the next year, he buys a Porsche 911 sports car, a 33-foot fishing boat and a 39-foot RV for his parents. He also is allowed to retire with a line-of-duty disability pension.
12.25.2005: After a month of being in and out of the hospital because of blood clots on his lungs, Zadroga spends Christmas with his parents and 4-year-old daughter in New Jersey. He has spent about $1,500 on presents for his daughter, as if he thinks this Christmas will be his last. But he is too weak to help her unwrap them.
1.5.2006: Zadroga dies at age 34 in his parents' home. His father finds his body at dawn on the floor of the bedroom where his daughter was sleeping. Zadroga apparently had gotten up to bring her a drink and collapsed.
2.2.2006: A federal judge in New York chastises Christine Todd Whitman for her reassuring comments after 9/11 about the air at Ground Zero. "Whitman's deliberate and misleading statements to the press … shocks the conscience," writes Judge Deborah Batts. The EPA's own air studies refuted Whitman's claims, the judge says.
2.28.2006: A report by the Ocean County, N.J., medical examiner's office says Zadroga's death was "directly related" to his work at Ground Zero. The report is the first official link between toxic air and a rescue or recovery worker's death.
10.18.2007: New York City chief medical examiner Charles Hirsch tells Zadroga's parents that his death was not caused by exposure to toxic dust at Ground Zero. Hirsch acknowledges that "foreign material" was in Zadroga's lungs but says it didn't come from the World Trade Center site. His explanation for Zadroga's lung disease outrages his parents: ground-up painkillers that were injected into Zadroga's veins. The Zadrogas say that's impossible: For the last years of his life, they gave Zadroga all of his medication.
: The New York Daily News says there's "mounting evidence" that the city's medical examiner "libeled" Zadroga's memory. The paper says Hirsch treated Zadroga's parents with "the brutal, clinical efficiency of a man accustomed to working with flesh on ice" and "left the lingering, disgraceful implication that Zadroga was a drug abuser."
10.29.2007: Mayor Michael Bloomberg says science sometimes provides unpopular answers, as in the Zadroga case: "We wanted to have a hero. … It's just in this case, science says this was not a hero." The next day, Bloomberg backs off: "This was a great officer who dedicated himself — put his life in harm's way hundreds of times during his career. It's a question of how you want to define what a hero is …"
9.15.2008: TheNew Yorker reports new details about the death of Zadroga's wife, Ronda. The magazine says "a local investigation noted that, according to the medical examiner's office, Ronda's lethal infection could not be conclusively determined to be the result of intravenous drug use. But track marks and multiple needle punctures were found on the body, and a toxicology report revealed non-toxic levels of drugs, including methadone."
10.21.2008: Zadroga is one of eight NYPD officers who died after 9/11 to receive distinguished-service medals. "They were part of the greatest rescue effort in the history of the police department," Commissioner Raymond Kelly says.
6.24.2009: The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is introduced in the U.S. Senate. It would establish monitoring and treatment for first responders and others exposed to dust at Ground Zero. Mayor Bloomberg supports the legislation — many workers have sued, saying they got sick because the city neglected their safety — but he also supports the city medical examiner's finding that Zadroga was not killed by inhaling dust at the site.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., says she believes Zadroga died of 9/11-related causes: "Whatever the immediate cause of death, the fundamental cause of death was his grave respiratory illness."
12.9.2010: The Senate votes 57-42 in favor of the Zadroga Act. But supporters lack the 60 votes to override a Republican filibuster. Republicans want Democratic concessions on tax cuts, and they express concerns about how to pay for the $7.4 billion bill.
A similar bill has passed the House, but it looks as if the Senate version can't pass before the end of the session.
12.16.2010: Jon Stewart devotes nine minutes on his Comedy Central program, The Daily Show, to lambasting congressional opponents of the Zadroga Act. The comedian calls Republicans' opposition "an outrageous abdication of our responsibility to those who were most heroic on 9/11."
He says the fact that Congress has, meanwhile, passed tax cuts, "is great news for firefighters who make more than $200,000 a year." White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says Stewart may have helped keep alive hopes for passing the bill.
: Both houses of Congress pass the Zadroga Act, which seemed dead earlier in the month. The legislation sets aside $4.3billion in health care and economic aid for first responders and survivors of the terror attacks.
When President Obama signs the bill, Joseph Zadroga — thinking of his son — calls it "a bittersweet victory."
And whether James' death actually was caused by Ground Zero air remains in dispute.For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor
Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.
Posted | Updated
Source : http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-09-01-911-vignettes-personal-stories_n.htm