The oral history project StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit with a mission to “provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.”
Perhaps no stories are more deeply felt by Americans living now than those from September 11, 2001, and StoryCorps has those, too.
The project collects stories in order to “remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters.”
Every life matters, and every tale matters. The moments of individual lives are what make up the whole of American history, and this project exists to ensure that those moments are captured. Today, on the eleventh anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11, we reflect on some of the most touching moments from the lives of Americans on that fateful day. StoryCorps shares their stories. Here are just a few:
John and Joe
On September 11, 2001, John Vigiano, Jr., a New York City firefighter, and his brother Joe, a police detective, both responded to the call from the World Trade Center. Both were killed there. Their father, John, Sr., a retired New York City firefighter himself, reflects on his sons and his tremendous loss in this animated short.
Lee and Eunice Hanson lost three family members
The couple talk to StoryCorps about losing three family members, one of whom had never flown in an airplane until her flight aboard United Airlines Flight 175 on September 11th.
Father Michael Duffy remembers Father Mychal Judge
Following the 9/11 attacks, Father Duffy first received a phone call that informed him of the death of his close friend and mentor Father Mychal Judge, then a second call requesting that Duffy give the homily at Judge’s funeral.
On September 11th, Father Judge was serving as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. He arrived at the World Trade Center just after the first attack. Listen to the full interview, where Father Duffy remembers his friend’s funeral.
Barbara Cattano remembers her Partner Alena
Barbara’s partner of 22 years, Alena Sesinova, was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Barbara shares the woman’s story.
Eleven-year-old Graham Haggett honors his grandmother
Graham Haggett was just ten weeks old when his grandmother Sandra Lee Wright was killed in her offices in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He was never able to meet the woman, but he knows her story well. Listen as now-eleven-year-old Graham and his mother Shelli Wright share the memory for StoryCorps.
Listen to dozens more stories from those affected by 9/11, as well as over 40,000 other stories collected by StoryCorps since 2003, here. The tales are also featured every Friday on NPR’s Morning Edition, collected in New York Times Bestselling books, and shared through these animated shorts.
For more stories to remember 9/11, see our Opening Our Hearts post from September 2011: Remembering 9/11 Together.