Thousands of people went to work in New York City on September 11th and never made it home. School age children waited for their parents to pick them up after the towers were hit, but some would never come. Most of these children were too young to even understand the gravity of what was happening.
More than 3,000 children and young adults lost their parents on September 11th. The infants and children of that cataclysmic day have grown up. Some are in school, have careers, and may even have children of their own.
The people aboard the four hijacked plans, and those victims who were on land, sadly, left behind children and families that were forced to move on without them. They will always be part of a special group of people whose bereavement is unique to September 11th. Their grief is, unfortunately, not as private as others. The lives of the parents they lost will forever be overwhelmingly public.
These children, dubbed The Children of 9/11, have each grieved and continue on with their lives in different ways. We’ve put together a list of 15 of the Children of 9/11 who have tried not to be defined by their parent’s death, but have found ways to move on, while still honoring them and the other victims of that day.
15 Hayley Morris
September 11th was a day that 5 year old Hayley Morris would never forget. Hayley’s father, Seth was a partner at Cantor-Fitzgerald. Seth worked on the 105th floor of the first tower. When the first plane hit his building, Seth was there.
Hayley had a rough morning that day. She struggled to go to her second day of kindergarten. Hayley’s mom, Lynn had called Seth telling her how Hayley’s morning had gone. Their phone call, that took place after the first plane hit, was centered around Hayley. Seth hadn’t learned that a plane had hit the building yet.
After the family learned of their dad’s death, their mom tried to make their lives as normal as possible. Hayley and her siblings never forgot their father, however.
Hayley, now 21, along with her brother and sister have started a foundation called the Seth Morris 9/11 Foundation. They started it to provide scholarships to high school and college students in need. She is actively pursuing her dreams.
14 Lindsay Weinberg
Today, Lindsay Weinberg’s job is to find and notify the families of people who have died, often times under tough circumstances. She received the same news in 2002 when the medical examiners were able to identify her father’s remains, naming him a victim of 9/11.
Her father, Steven Weinberg was the accounting manager at Baseline Financial Services. He was married to Lindsay’s mom, Laurie, for 14 years. They had three children together.
Lindsay was only 12 when she learned of the news of her father. She uses her experience to draw empathy for the families she works with today. Lindsay received a masters degree in forensic science after she learned that is what helped investigators to identify his remains. Ironically, Lindsay now works as an outreach investigator.
13 Thea Trinidad
Before Thea reached the age of 11, her father, Michael had been a victim of 9/11. Thea can recall the conversation her mother and father had on the phone as he was saying goodbye.
Michael was a 33 year old telecom analyst for the firm Cantor Fitzgerald. He was on the 103rd floor of the North Tower when the planes hit. Thea had a rough time dealing with her fathers passing at first, but did eventually get her act together.
Thea and her father had always watched WWE wrestling together and they would often attend events in New York City together. After her father passed she decided to honor him by becoming a professional wrestler.
She spent tons of time training with other professionals before signing with TNA in 2011. She also became a “Rosebud” in Adam Rose’s entourage and performed with him in Madison Square Garden and Wildwood, New Jersey. She has spent her adult life honoring her father’s memory as best as she can.
12 Michael Massoroli
Michael Massaroli was only 6 when his father, and investment executive for Cantor Fitzgerald, became a victim of 9/11. Michael had just visited his father’s office on the 101st floor of the North Tower the day before. His mother, Diane, had just given birth to his baby sister, Angelina, two months prior.
Michael was so inspired by all of the people who had helped him and his family after his father’s death that he decided he wanted to find a career that would allow him to help others in the same way.
Michael chose the route of politics to achieve this dream in honor of his father. He graduated from George Washington University and landed a job for a firm in Washington. His firm aids political campaigns in managing their finances. Michael sees himself in a government role in his future.
11 Anjunelly Jean-Pierre
Maxima Jean-Pierre, manager of an executive cafe, was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11th. Maxima, an immigrant from the Domican Republic, left a daughter, Anjunelly and her sister Rachel.
Anjunelly was 19 at the time of her mother’s death and though she had her future figured out. She had originally planned to enter military and eventually become a doctor or lawyer. She changed her future plans to honor her mother. She felt that she should continue her mother’s tradition as a chef, using food to bring people together.
Anjunelly finished culinary school and her first job in the industry was as a sous chef. She later became a manager for a Member’s dining room in congress, where she still works today bringing people together just like her mother had.
10 Alexandra Wald
Alexandra Wald was another of the Children of 9/11 whose parent were suddenly taken from her. At age 14, Alex was given the news that her father had been a victim of terrorism.
It was Alex’s first day of high school when her father, Victor Wald, was taken from her. Alex had also when been interested in world affairs and current events, but the terror attacks of 9/11 only peaked her interest even more. Alex was given a scholarship to study from the Families of Freedom Scholarship fund set up to help the children of 9/11 victims.
After wanting to know the cause of his death, Alex studied Arabic for four years in college, got her masters in international relations, and she also devoted much of her time researching books about 9/11.
9 Ryan McGowan
Ryan was only five years old when her mother, Stacey McGowan, an investment executive, was killed at the world trade center. She and her sister, Casey, who was four at the time, were left motherless.
Ryan stepped in to help their father, Tom, take care of her little sister after their mother died. After Ryan graduated from high school she enrolled in Boston College. She is currently 20 and studying Marketing, while her sister is studying communications also at Boston College.
Ryan and Casey chose Boston College because their mom was a alumnus. The sisters can walk across campus and visit a memorial where their mom and 21 other Boston College graduates have their names inscribed.
8 Sonia Shah
Sonia Shah is a Baylor University student who happened to also be a child of 9/11. Sonia’s father, Jahesh Shah, was a financial trading technology executive when he was killed during the terrorist attacks. Sonia was only 7 years old at the time.
Not only is Sonia a college student, she also volunteers her free time helping refugees. She spent last summer helping refugees in Greece. Sonia’s father’s death inspired her to help others who struggle with conflict and loss.
Sonia uses her father’s death to fuel her impulse to help others in need. She intends to use her college degree to continue her desire to help people when others might turn away. She has always felt that because she faced a significant lose at an early age that she could see others in a different way.
7 Ronald Milam Junior
Ronald Milam Juniors father was 33 years old when he died in the terror attacks of 9/11. Luckily for Ronald Jr., his mother, who was also working in the Pentagon that day, but safely escaped the attacks.
Ronald’s mother, Jacqueline, was pregnant with him the day of the attacks. Ronald would become one of the more than 100 children who were born after the attacks.
Even though Ronald never met his father, he wanted to find a way to honor him. He decided to use his dad’s age when he died as his jersey number for all of the sports he plays, which include basketball and football. Now 14 years old, Ronald resembles his father features and personality.
6 Gabriel Jacobs Dick
Gabriel Jacobs Dick, now 14 years old, was another child who wasn’t born until after his father was killed in the 9/11 attacks. Gabe’s dad, Ariel, didn’t even work in the Towers. He was attending a conference in the North Tower when the planes hit.
Gabe’s mom, Jenna, had him only six days after Ariel died. Though Gabe has occassional anxiety because of 9/11, he lives a completely normal life as a teenager. He began group therapy at the age of 6, which has helped him with his anxiety.
Today, Gabe and his mom send out red balloons into the sky with notes to Ariel every September 11th. They say this is Gabe’s way of communicating with his father. Gabe closely resembles him both in appearance and personality.
5 Olivia and Carter Dack
Abigail Carter was home with her 6 year old, Olivia, and 2 month old, Carter, when she received a call from her husband. Caleb Aaron Dack was making his last phone call to his family, as the plane had already hit the North Tower and he knew he wasn’t going to make it out alive.
Caleb Dack died during a business meeting at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center. Because they lived in a small community where they felt they would always be reminded of the tragedy and loss they faced, they decided to make another life change. Four years after 9/11 Carter and Olivia moved with their mother to Seattle for a fresh start.
4 Francesca Picerno
Francesca was only 9 years old when her father, Michael, left their New Jersey home to head to work that September 11th morning. Little did she know, it would be the last time she would ever see him. Her dad was a municipal bond broker for Cantor-Fitzgerald. His office was on the 104th floor.
Francesca is now an aspiring musician. She remembered how her dad would sing to her and decided to pursue her career in music. In 2014 she was asked to perform in a special gala called “Roots of Resilience” to benefit the Children of 9/11. She is a long time supporter and spokeswoman for Tuesday’s Children.
3 Lauren Kestenbaum
Lauren Kestenbaum was, though 24 at the time, was another child of a 9/11 victim. Her father, Howard, worked as a senior vice president for Aon Corporation. On September 11th he was working in his office on the 103th story of the South Tower.
Lauren had been working at the New York City Public Library at the time the planes hit. She was able to see the smoke from a commuter bus she was taking to work that day.
After 9/11 Lauren decided to continue her education by moving to the Midwest to receive a master’s degree in library science, followed by law school at Stanford University.
2 Avery and Payton Wall
Sisters, Avery and Payton Wall, were just 2 and 4 years old at the time of their father’s death. Glen Wall was just 38 years old when he became a victim of the terror attacks. He worked as a senior vice president of Cantor Fitzgerald and was on the 105th floor of the North Tower when the planes hit.
Ten years after 9/11, Avery and Payton had some serious dreams come true. Payton had asked to meet President Obama. He met her and her sister at Ground Zero, where he met several other children of 9/11 as well.
When Avery told President Obama that she really wanted to meet Justin Bieber, he made it happen. The sisters were both able to meet Bieber backstage at a concert and get some pictures with him.
1 Madison Roberston
Madison Roberston is best friend of Payton and Avery Wall, whose father also died on September 11th. Madison’s father, Donald Robertson Junior worked as the vice president of sales for Cantor Fitzgerald. He was working on the 105th floor when the planes hit.
Donald Robertson left behind Madison and three sons. Madison and the Wall sisters had a lot in common, but they were able to create a unique bond when their fathers were both killed on 9/11.
Madison was able to be by their side when they met President Obama and Justin Bieber. The girls families travel to the city to Ground Zero together too. Madison’s family writes messages to Donald on balloons and go to the beach to let them go each year to remember her father each year.
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