9/11: Remembering the Rosenzweig Family

This doesn’t get any easier for me, even after 11 years, but today I have a memory to share with you. I usually talk to you about my experiences here at Oliver, and the people here that can help you in your home, and we’ll come back to that later this week. Today I want to talk to you about a family that I met 11 years ago.

On 9/10/01, I was on top of the world. I had just moved to New York with one of my best friends and started my dream job at a non-profit that teaches kids from war zones how to deal with other on a human level. My very last memory of the standing towers is from our apartment, where we figured out that even by hanging upside down across the back of the chair and looking through the top of our window, we still couldn’t see the tops of the towers because we were that close. 24 hours later, they were gone.

On 9/11/01, I was in hell. I could probably recite that entire day from memory, but I’ll just give you a few snapshots. In between when the first and second planes hit, I was able to reply to an email from my grandmother to tell her I was okay and ask her to call my mom because the phones were jammed. Later, during the long walk up Lexington Avenue to a friend’s apartment, the first military planes flew overhead and for probably the only time in New York history, the entire street full of people stopped in their tracks and silently watched it. In the evening, my roommate (who had left early that morning for a doctor’s appointment in 7WTC) and I finally found each other.

A couple of days later, we were back to work and wondering what next, when a strange thing happened. We started receiving check after check in memory of a man named Phil Rosenzweig. None of us had ever heard of this man, he hadn’t been involved in any of our programs and we couldn’t find his name in any of our records. We eventually learned that the had been a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston and that his widow had designated our organization as one that she would like people to support in memory of her husband.

I had the great privelege to get to know Mrs. Rosenzweig and her two young sons over the next year. Eventually, I and several colleagues traveled to Acton, MA where the boys’ school put on an amazing program in their support. This family’s strength and courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy is one of the things that has been etched on my memory for the past 11 years. Although we’ve lost touch since I have moved on in my career, I have never forgotten them. Nothing can truly make up for the loss that they experienced, but seeing the way that their community embraced them and did their level best to lift them up was incredible. I truly hope that all of the victims’ families had (and continue to have) that kind of support.

God bless the Rosenzweig family on this sad anniversary, and the families of all the others who were lost. God bless the USA.

– Shanna

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