Story Corps Helps Preserve Voices On 9/11 Memories
By Adrienne Smith, CBS Local Media
Monique Ferrer had pulled her daughter from school and was heading to a doctor’s appointment when the planes hit the twin towers. Shortly thereafter, her ex-husband Michael Trinidad called.
“He was calling from the 103rd floor. The first thing he said was ‘I’m calling to say goodbye.’”
Michael wanted Monique to tell the children he loved them, and to ask her current husband to act as father to his kids.
“My daughter was there and saw me becoming a little hysterical,” she said. “I didn’t want to put her on. I didn’t know how he’d react. He thought she was at school.”
Michael died in the towers that day. Monique still sees him reflected in her children’s demeanor, jokes, and style of talking; she reminds her children daily to remember their father in everything they do.
The chance to say goodbye on 9/11 is Monique’s story. She is one of thousands affected, and one of dozens recorded by Story Corps to capture the emotions of that Tuesday in September.
The Story Corps website has recorded audio files of friends, parents, spouses and survivors recounting their 9/11 story. Some are interviewed by a sibling or husband. Others simply share their memories.
The independent nonprofit secured these memory snapshots in two- to three- minute audio clips. They are full of hope, resentment, debilitating sadness, loneliness, a sense of togetherness.
Frankie DeVito, 10, remembers his grandfather Bill Steckman, who died in the towers. Franki confesses to his mother the difficulty he had during “happy times” with his “grandpa” stuck on his mind. Mother Nancy Cimei describes her feelings of helplessness when her son Michael D’Auria, a newly appointed firefighter, went missing for months after racing to Ground Zero.
Not every story focuses on loss. John Yates and Keith Meerholz simply feel grateful to be alive. John was blown through the air at the Pentagon, suffering burns across his body. He was the only one that survived in a small group of five huddled around the television. Keith interviews his wife, Grete, on her experience when he told her he’d escaped the towers. “The tower had fallen,” Grete recalls. “I’d thought that was it. I kind of gave up hope… shortly after, you called.” John Abruzzo, a quadriplegic, recalls a friendship strengthened when co-workers took turns carrying him down 69 floors.
John Romanowich and Angie Kardashian quickly found ways to be supportive. John, a recovery worker, immediately began aiding clean up at Ground Zero. Despite his pride in contributing, he said going back to a normal job and normal existence never “felt right” after that. Angie gave up her business in California to move to New York. She cooked for firefighters across New York that worked at Ground Zero.
Listen to a select few stories below.
Keith Meerholz and his wife, Grete
Story Corps has collected over 30,000 interviews on a plethora of topics. All are preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., or at www.storycorps.org. Share your story about 9/11 or another important memories. Story Corps has permanent booths in New York City’s Foley Square and on San Francisco’s Mission Street, as well as other temporary locations. You receive a copy of your memory, and another is sent to the Library of Congress.
Adrienne Smith is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Media.