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After Words: Reports, observations and reflections on the September 11 attacks

Alumni Accomplishments

Class Notes

Magazine Cover

After Words

Reports, observations and reflections on the September 11 attacks from your class reporters, adapted from their columns in this issue of St. Lawrence.

Midge Longley

Individuals and organizations in my neighborhood set up a food station at our local precinct and provided breakfast and dinner for a month for hundreds of the World Trade Center rescue workers. When the workers returned from Ground Zero, they looked like they had been drawn through a knothole.

I was more of a witness to the disaster than I would have cared to be. As I returned home from the polls that primary day I heard a very loud noise. I looked up and saw American Airlines Flight 11 just clearing our rooftops. I thought, "What's with that plane?! It's too low. It's going to hit something." It did. I was on jury duty, so I dutifully headed for the courthouse, which is just a few blocks from the World Trade Center. The streets were full of people looking up at the North Tower with smoke pouring out. As we looked, the second plane crashed into the second tower. Now we knew this was not an accident.

I was dismissed from jury duty (I was the only one to show up), but continued serving for the next two weeks until we reached a verdict. During lunch breaks I walked down to Ground Zero. Devastating. Television doesn't begin to capture the reality. The good news is that New Yorkers are tough, resilient and resolute - and united.

Linda Marlow Castle

I write on November 11, exactly two months from our country's great September 11 tragedy. Each of us will always remember the very moment and place that we heard the news. I found myself on the final leg of a two-week trip on the Katmai Peninsula - no TV or telephones, only computer printouts courtesy of the rangers to inform us of the terrorist attack. So there we were, stranded. In the face of the tragedy, the inconvenience was nothing. It made for a strange feeling to be so isolated. Spending that weekend (after the trip) with two of my children (in D.C.) and experiencing the sense of patriotism in the Washington area was overwhelming. Living "normally" is a challenge.

Hulit Pressley Taylor

On September 11, Tom Maltby's son, Christian, an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. Our hearts go out to (Tom's family).

Leah Kollmer Puzzo

I have been back to campus several times; (it is) a place of serenity and relative safety after the disaster of September 11. Please pray for peace and God bless all of us.

John and Dottie Houghton Kosicki
Since this is our first column since the tragedy of September 11, we want to express our sympathy to the families and friends of St. Lawrence alumni who perished. We were especially saddened that Rich Stewart '89, who had done a banking internship with John, was among those who lost their lives.

Patti Black Giltner

As the events of September 11 stay ever fresh in our memories, hold tight to those you love and never miss an opportunity to tell them how you feel. Take time to find people with whom you have lost touch. You just never know.…

Jill Martin Barker

I hope that by the time this reaches you, we are all considerably healed and in a better emotional place than where we were when this was written last fall. Also, I know I speak for so many others when I say that the SLU Web site that was created after the 9/11 attack was an important connection and greatly appreciated by alumni.

Michelle DeLuca Smith

(Adapted from an Oct. 31, 2001, CNNmoney story)
Jim Yellen was coming out of the subway to get to his job as a lawyer for Morgan Stanley at the World Trade Center when the first plane slammed into Tower 1. He saw bodies falling to the ground, and the second plane hit Tower 2. Yellen stood by the fountain near the two towers in shock, watching the horror unfold around him. Then Tower 2 started to collapse. He started running and made it to safety just ahead of the ugly cloud of black smoke and debris. For those memories, and for New York, Yellen (ran) his ninth New York Marathon on (November 4).

"I've worked in the World Trade Center, either Tower 1 or 2, since 1985," Yellen said. "In every marathon, standing on that bridge, I've stared at my office."

On Feb. 26, 1993, when a terrorist bomb killed six people and injured more than 1,000 others at the Trade Center, Yellen was getting ready to leave his office to teach a class at Fordham Law School. At the time, he was working on the 58th floor. He made his way down the smoke-filled staircase, his book bag on his shoulder. It took him three hours. "I know what it's like going down those stairs," he recalled.

On Sept. 11, as Yellen stood in the shadow of the towers under attack, he kept thinking about the firefighters and police rushing inside. It never occurred to him that the mighty buildings would come down. He was frozen in the spot, unable to believe what was happening. "It seemed to take only seconds for the building to pancake," Yellen recalled. "I was about 150 feet away. Watching it go down jolted me out of my shock. I had to outrun the smoke, which was coming at me very fast," he said. "As soon as I got about 100 yards away I knew it wasn't going to catch me." When he got to Broadway, it was pandemonium.

When he sees video of the aftermath, he's always struck by how tame it seems compared to the actual day. There was a powerful burning smell. And there was the thunderous sound of the buildings crashing down, like a detonation. And blended in were the people all around him, whispering, screaming, or crying, "Oh my God."

A few days later, Yellen decided to talk to his students at Fordham. The tragedy was so raw in his mind, he was shaking. While most of his co-workers made it to safety, seven lost their lives.

"I told them my story," he said. "And then I said, 'When you're in a panic about your final exams in March, remember this talk. All you're going to think about is whether you'll make law review, and being at the top of your class, and getting a good job. But what's important are the people in your life and the people that are close to you.'"

"I've run all these marathons since 1993 looking at those buildings," he said. "I have to run. Otherwise the terrorists succeeded."

Margaret Ingalls Walton

Linda Terrell Mitchell is one member of our class who works directly in the airline industry. She is vice president and general counsel of America West Airlines in Phoenix, Ariz. I asked her how last fall's events were affecting her and America West. According to Linda, "Before September 11, I had the best job of any lawyer I know. We have a great management team here and while we are rising to the challenge of 'saving the airline,' the stress is a bit overwhelming at times. Otherwise, I'm great - I live in paradise, I have two beautiful children, I'm married to the love of my life…I just need a new career."

Dick Southwick ran in the NYC Marathon. In Dick's words, it "was awesome. It was my first marathon and the crowds were amazing. Nearly every runner wore red, white and blue or an American flag. Many people wore pictures of people lost in the attacks. The foreign runners (one third of the participants) were wonderful and many had shirts that expressed their sentiments of solidarity with us."

Mary Bowman Popovich

Ray Celeste survived the attack on the Pentagon. In Ray's words, "You really develop a different perspective on life when you make it through a harrowing experience. May God rest the souls of all those who perished." I believe all of us feel the way Ray does and will continue to count all the precious blessings we have in life. Ray works for the Defense Department.

Karen Helle Nemiah

Not only as an American did I feel the pain of the day, not only as a resident of an NYC suburb (where we lost several community members and I know many more who know many more who did) was I upset and scared, but as well as a Class of 1982 member and friend and former roommate of Cathy Gorayeb, who died on that pivotal morning, I can definitely say a part of me was lost.

Not that Cathy and I had talked for years, and that is in itself a sad thing…but losing someone who was actively involved in my St. Lawrence career really hits hard. From freshman year when we gave blood together for the first time, or listening to her field phone calls from guys mostly intrigued by her "sultry" high school senior portrait, to her helping me build a bookshelf sophomore year in the DEX room we shared (let's just say she was good at the moral support!), to the numerous antics we pulled off together, she was part of my formative years. And those are years that I will always treasure.

Think of the time when we could really live for the moment and were only too eager to spend time with friends and try new things as part of that invincibility we all experienced on our journey growing up and discovering ourselves. All those events, big and small, helped shape us to become who we are today. The sum of that is what I treasure most about Cathy. Sure her smile is a great memory, her laugh, all her qualities-but it is a really weird thing to have lost someone on that tragic day who moaned and groaned and laughed and cried with me every day.

I hope that all of us can honor Cathy and the other heroes of the day, including anyone else lost to us that day (SLU lost four other alumni), by making sure we live each day without regrets. Any of us could have been there like Cathy. She had gone to the World Trade Center on September 11 for a meeting. It could have been any other day. She leaves a 2-year-old daughter, Kate, who will be living with Cathy's sister Claire in Boston.
Two former Cantonites were brought together in the aftermath of September 11. A wonderful article written by Julia Carlisle, a free-lance writer and reporter for The Vermont Standard, delivered a thoughtful portrait of Brett Grandaw's (husband of Wendy Treash Grandaw) role in the rescue effort.

Brett's Massachusetts Task Force FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team team of 78 people based out of Beverly, Mass., was activated (immediately) and later that evening they found themselves at Ground Zero. His team's mission was tough, spending hours on the night search groping in underground malls and subway tunnels looking for signs of life. A bright point came when they rescued a police officer buried up to his neck in rubble who later came back to work on "the pile" with only minor injuries.

Diane Miller Neer

Amy Lockwood MacDougall breathed a sigh of relief when her husband, Doug, in an effort to save money for a client, changed his September 11 flight to one that made it safely to its ultimate destination. These have been tough times for everyone, but we were especially heartened to see SLU's wonderful Web site keeping us posted about the status of alumni in the New York area. It's been over 20 years since we stood around the Quad in September of 1980 and our world has changed so tremendously that it's hard to remember who we were and how we lived back then. But let's do our best to stay in touch and reach out to each other!

Elizabeth Solomon Hubbard

This is the first column I've written since the tragic terrorist activity on Sept. 11. Before I get to all the news of our class, I want to express my sincere sympathy for the SLU alumni who lost their lives or loved ones on that horrific day. Of the five alumni lost, I knew three. Richie Stewart '89 was a good friend and I remember him fondly. I wish there was something I could do to bring him and all the others back, but remembering him as a funny, kind, smart young man will have to do. To all of you who lost loved ones, my heart goes out to you.

Rob Kenney, an associate at the (New York City) law firm O'Melveny & Myers, wrote of working at Ground Zero with the firefighters, digging in the rubble. Despite the hard work and danger, Rob found the experience gratifying and enlightening. In his words, "New York firefighters are the real deal! I am very proud to have had the opportunity to work next to and among them." And we are proud to have such a brave and selfless classmate.

Julie Gregory

Our class continues to mourn the loss of Mike Pelletier and Bobby Coll. In this time of national crisis and turmoil we can find solace in our SLU family.

Tanya R. Parrott

Matt Lyndaker visited a cousin in the NYC area the weekend before the September 11 attacks. He was "at the South Tower's (observation deck) Monday afternoon, the 10th, and got some beautiful pictures. I flew out of Newark airport Tuesday morning at 8:13 a.m. and it turns out that I was on the runway with the plane that got hijacked flying out of there… Not that I feel like I cheated death or anything, but it's odd knowing that I was one of the last people in the world to visit the WTC."

Karen Sasinek

In one way or another we have all been affected by the September 11 tragedies. Be assured that we will get through this together as friends, families and as a country.

(The following is excerpted from an article Dick Clinchy '65 wrote for, the "worldwide Website of Emergency Responders.")

Being at Ground Zero
Throughout 40-plus years of providing pre-hospital emergency care, I've noted that we in EMS rarely hear a "thank you." After being deployed to Ground Zero in New York with a 45-member team from the Florida/Alabama Gulf Coast, I have a new perspective.

Having grown up in the New York City area and having been a professional firefighter in a community just north of the City, I know that New Yorkers tend to be somewhat brusque and, in the minds of most who don't understand the pace of New York, don't seem to care too much for their neighbors. My experiences surrounding the World Trade Center disaster prove that people in general appreciate what we do, and that the folks in New York City aren't quite as callous and cold as you might think.

We generally kept our IDs around our necks and usually were in some sort of uniform. Walking down the streets of Manhattan, we were stopped two or three times every block by people who wanted to shake our hands or just say thanks.

Some members of our team went a few blocks uptown for breakfast one morning. A young man in the restaurant with his wife and child picked up the tab for all of them.

At our hotel, I was having breakfast with my best friend who was doing military liaison work at the Office of Emergency Management at Pier 92. When we were done eating, the waiter knocked 25 percent off our breakfast tab. It was his way of saying thanks.

A dry cleaning and laundry establishment on 8th Avenue, a few blocks from the hotel where many team people were staying, did laundry and dry cleaning for us at no charge.

The last night I was at Ground Zero, we left in our bus around 2 a.m. As we passed by the security zone barrier, there were still residents waving, cheering and holding up signs that read "Thank You," "We Love You," "You're Our Heroes." That certainly isn't what I'd view as brusque or callous

While the emotional scars of the time spent at Ground Zero will likely never go away for any of us who were there, the people of the City of New York surely made us feel welcome and opened their hearts to us in many, many ways.