Let’s always remember people of 9/11

By Tammy Keith Published September 17, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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I am ashamed to admit — I almost forgot.

It was Sept. 11, and I had rushed into work shortly after 7 a.m. before reading the newspaper. I started making my long to-do list on my Day-Timer because I still like to see my lists and check things off.

Then I realized the date, and I remembered.

I remembered the horror of that day 16 years ago, when terrorists attacked our country and murdered almost 3,000 people. I started using the word murdered instead of killed after I talked to the father of Sara Low of Batesville. That’s the word he used, and he was right. She was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the first World Trade Center tower to be hit in New York City.

The picture of her with her pixie haircut and her beautiful smiling face was shown all over the world.

I guarantee you — her family never forgets.

It was a perfect, sky-blue day when it happened. I distinctly remember driving through town with the sun shining and seeing American flags everywhere. I would just start crying as I drove.

My brother, Shane, was in New York City doing his surgery residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Of course, my family immediately thought of him when we saw what was happening. He shouldn’t have been anywhere near the World Trade Center, but what if? It took a little while, but my parents finally got an email from him saying he was OK.

He went to the top of one of the hospital buildings and watched the towers burn, and he went to the still-smoldering ground zero with other doctors to see if they could help. There was no one to save. But they took water and breathing masks to the firefighters.

A memorial is being built in Point Lookout, New York, and it will include a separate plaque listing 582 police officers, firefighters,

construction workers, cleanup volunteers and others who spent time in the rubble of the World Trade Center and died of illnesses believed to be linked to the toxic smoke and ash at the site. They were heroes, too.

Shane went to the ground-zero memorial a few months ago, and he found Sara’s name.

I interviewed him and a young man from Arkansas who escaped the tower for a story in Arkansas Life, the newspaper’s magazine. Through the years, I’ve interviewed a University of Central Arkansas graduate who escaped one of the towers, and I sat in a living room with three beautiful young ladies, daughters of Tom Burnett Jr., who died on hijacked Flight 93 when it crashed in a Pennsylvania field. They talked about their memories of their

father, who died a hero, and how much they missed him.

I know they never forget.

I should have written this last week, the day before Sept. 11, but I didn’t think about it.

We’ve been overwhelmed in the past couple of weeks with news of the devastating, deadly hurricanes in Texas and Florida, along with the earthquake in Mexico that almost got overlooked because of the storms. Sometimes it seems easier to block it all out because it’s too much to absorb.

Sara’s father said something to me during an interview. “She’s there in my thoughts every day, every night. It never, never goes away.”

And it shouldn’t. For any of us.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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