Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Each day for the past 12 years Al and I have remembered September 11, 2001 as the saddest day of our lives. On that hate filled day our only son Christopher was murdered. He was one of 2,974 people who died that day. He was our only boy. He will be forever be remembered by us.
As the years have passed so have many memories of the horror of that day. We are so very gladdened by all of those who continue to remember even though they lost no one. September 11, 2001 will forever be a sad day in our Nation’s history. It will be a day that those of us who were alive will remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. It is a day that changed our world and our Nation forever. It also changed all of us.
We begin our formal remembrances with a very special event. St. Michael’s Cemetery has for the past 11 year held a memorial to all the rescue workers who have died. We now have begun a special run/walk called the Remember Me Run to raise funds for all those children whose parents have since died because they worked on “the pile” at Ground Zero. So many are so very ill. So many have died because they did the right thing. We believe that helping their children with college scholarships is the least we can do to let their families know that they are remembered for their bravery. This year we had about 50 runners of all ages. The sun was shining and all who were in attendance felt the wonderful spirit of helping to raise these funds. Hopefully, next year we will have more runners and more people attend. So many who come each year were there again to remember September 11, 2001. We are so very humbled to see them all. They let us know that they have not forgotten.
On September 11th we visit Christopher’s firehouse. Each year we meet members of the 15 families who perished that day. We are all a bit older. The children are now in high school or in college. We have grandchildren who come and of course many of the original firefighters who were there that day come back even if they have retired or have been transferred to a new firehouse or have been promoted to a higher rank. We look forward to seeing them all. Across the street from the firehouse there is a special memorial to the 15 men who died that day. After the ceremony we go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a special mass for all those in Division 3. Again we see friends whom Al worked with and again we are humbled that so many have taken the time to remember. Our final stop is the memorial. This year we were pleased that the guards did not remove the flags and the mass cards and the tokens of love left by the families. On most days the memorial is a very sterile place. It is peaceful but other than the names there are no personal artifacts allowed on the site. We as a family have dinner and go our separate ways after a very emotionally draining day.
After September 11 this year we were to have the United Civic Association’s annual memorial ceremony. We go each year and are always so very humbled that so many residents of Astoria, Long Island City, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and other places in Queens have representatives to come and remember. This year however the weather forced a cancellation of the ceremony. Instead we'll go on Sunday Sept 15 and help place a wreath at the memorial park at McManus Square.
As family members we can only say “thank you” to all who honor the victims on September 11, 2001. Their actions and their presence gives us hope that this day that changed our world will be a solemn day for many years to come.
We are deeply saddened that the Department of Education in NYC and the State Education Department in NY has not seen fit to include a curriculum on Sept 11,2001. There are so many lessons for the students to learn about that day. We are certain that if a curriculum is developed no family members and no educators will be included in the development of such a curriculum. Like the memorial, all those who designed it lost no one. It was simply a job for them. We will continue to push for teachers to have the opportunity to speak about this day. It is important and necessary. If we are to change our world from the path of hatred that we are on to one of peace, our children are the ones who will accomplish this.
September 11, 2014 will be here before we know it. Let us all make an effort to be kinder, more tolerant and more peaceful in our everyday lives.
Mother of FF Christopher A. Santora, Engine 54