Nearly 3,000 people died 20 years ago when fans bearing the Al Qaeda seal struck the heart of the US What happened that Tuesday, while New York’s skies were clear, would mark an entire generation. Thousands of lives would never be the same again. Tom Strada’s death left Terry a widow and Thomas, Kaitlyn and little Justin, who was barely four days old and now serving in the US armed forces, orphans of father. They are the children of September 11, those that they were too young when their father died to remember him or were yet to be born. Like Ronald Link-Milam.
American Airlines Flight 77 crashed at 9.37 in the morning against the Pentagon, where Jacqueline Milam and her husband were. War veteran, Ronald Milam died after the aircraft hit the west side of the building. His pregnant wife, on the other side of the compound at the time of the attack, survived. Ronald was about to be born; and his daughter Myejoi was only two years old.
Despite the fact that their existence has been marked by that tragic day, they are not sure exactly what happened, while around them everyone talks and thinks about it. They carry the brand that defines them as victims and they try not to let themselves be defined by that label. “Wherever she went, she was always the girl who had lost her father on 9/11,” Kaitlyn Wallace tells EL PAÍS via videoconference (a year ago she abandoned her maiden name, Strada). This 24-year-old woman admits that she grew up in fear, in constant fear that misfortune would knock on her door again.
“I was terrified that the bad guys, as the attackers were called, might take someone else from my family back,” says Wallace. “I kept asking when Dad was coming home,” she says. Until the days, weeks, months and years go by. “That’s when you accept that it will never come back,” he concludes.
Like hundreds of 9/11 children, Wallace clung to the only safe harbor he knew, his mother. That anchor was Terry Strada, now 58 years old. Exactly 20 years ago, Strada was recovering from the delivery of her son Justin. It was then that her husband left home without knowing that he would never return. “He called me from the 104th floor of the North Tower, where his office was. His voice was overwhelming. I was aware that I was going to die trapped up there, ”says Strada. At 8:46 in the morning, American Airlines Flight 11 hit the offices of the financial company Cantor Fitzgerald. From that moment on, after the screaming had died down and the tears had stopped, the widow knew she had to move on for her three children. In addition, he turned to the search for the justice that he believes the victims of 9/11 lack.
At the head of the group Families and Survivors of 9/11 United Against Terrorism, Strada has been fighting for two decades against each and every one of the Administrations that has been in the United States to demand that the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the attacks, information that until last week was classified as secret for reasons of national security. Joe Biden has ordered the declassification of those documents.
Damage after rescue
“We have reason to believe that justice will finally be served and the Saudi Kingdom will pay for what it has done,” explains Strada in reference to the alleged funding and support that the country gave to the Al Qaeda terrorists – of the 19 hijackers, 15 they were Saudis. His daughter Kaitlyn believes that those who were guilty should pay for it and face a trial. Wallace points in the same direction as his mother: the Saudi monarchy. “That chapter of my life will never be closed,” he acknowledges. “But I do know that my father and our family will be able to rest in peace, we will stop being victims without answers, we will have peace.”
Peace and serenity, health and strength to work. Everything vanished. Jerry Green’s life was cut short forever between the twisted and smoking irons of the World Trade Center. The footprint of 9/11 has lived with him every day for 20 years. The fall of the Twin Towers cut short the life of this New York rescuer who today lives with respiratory failure due to long hours breathing toxic air as a result of the collapse. Like him, thousands of people who participated in the clearing and recovery of corpses from Ground Zero of the attack did what they believed was their duty without suspecting that they were contaminating themselves.
Since the end of the last decade, the Health program for the World Trade Center has paid attention to those who were indirect victims of Islamist terrorism. Greene receives help from this organization and joins the more than 100,000 people considered survivors and rescuers. “Without hesitation, I would do what I did again,” this 57-year-old man, whose voice tells of his suffering, recounted by telephone from Pennsylvania.
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