9/11 memorial honors unborn babies

Dianne T. Signer was five days away from

Dianne T. Signer was five days away from a wedding in Freeport and six months away from the birth of her first child when she died in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks of 9/11. Her mother, Patricia Ann Signer, wears a t-shirt honoring her daughter in her Queens home. (Aug. 31, 2011) (Credit: Charles Eckert)

Dianne T. Signer was five days away from her wedding in Freeport and six months away from the birth of her first child when she died in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Ten years later, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum will honor Signer, 32, who lived in Middle Village, Queens, and her unborn child, when it opens to the public on Sept. 12 in lower Manhattan. Signer's is one of 11 pregnancies acknowledged among the nearly 3,000 names inscribed in bronze around the footprints of the Twin Towers.

The phrase "and her unborn child" follows the names of the expectant mothers -- who also include Monica Rodriguez Smith, 35, of Seaford, who was working her last day before maternity leave when she was killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and that of Jennifer L. Howley, 34, of New Hyde Park, who was expecting her first child in January 2002 when she died in the towers.


MULTIMEDIA: Photos of 9/11 museum exhibits | Video tour of museum | Your Twin Towers photos | Interviews with families

MORE: Database of LI victimsComplete coverage


"I'm so happy the baby is mentioned," said Signer's mother, Patricia Signer, 68, of Middle Village. "Because that baby will always be in my heart."

Acknowledging the unborn underscores how deeply the attacks devastated families and their futures, said 9/11 memorial president Joe Daniels.

"It's a special part of the memorial," he said. "It reinforces that message about the whole project that the folks were just like us, that they were about to start these lives. . . . It reminds us that they were who we are."

He said memorial officials asked victims' next of kin about the prospect of noting pregnancies after learning that Smith's unborn child was mentioned on the 1993 bombing memorial that was destroyed on 9/11.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial honoring victims of the 1995 bombing is another precedent. It lists three unborn children under the names of mothers-to-be in the Field of Empty Chairs.

There were likely more than 11 pregnant victims of the 9/11 attacks, though not all their families would have known about pregnancies and not all would have wanted the fact mentioned, Daniels said.

Brian Howley said Wednesday that his late wife, Jennifer, and their unborn child will be included in the annual reading of the names of the dead on Sept. 11.

Louis Massari, whose wife, Patricia, 25, of Glendale, Queens, learned on the morning of 9/11 that she was pregnant, told Newsday in 2002 that the couple had cried tears of joy before she went to work at the World Trade Center and never returned.

"Two things were taken from me on that day," the then-Lynbrook resident said. "I was looking forward to being a father."

Patricia Signer said Thursday she envisioned her unborn grandchild would inherit Dianne's thick red mane, vivid blue eyes and vivacious nature. She said she finds solace in caring for two great-nieces who were named for her late daughter: Kayla Dianne, 8, and Emily Dianne, 7.

"I was so looking forward to baby-sitting that baby," she said, noting she still mourns the grandchild she never knew.


These women who were pregnant are listed on the 9/11 Memorial with mention of their unborn children:


Monica Rodriguez Smith

35, of Seaford

Died in 1993 World Trade Center bombing


Deanna Lynn Galante

32, of Staten Island

Died on 9/11 in the north tower, worked at Cantor Fitzgerald


Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas

38, of San Rafael, Calif.

Died on 9/11 aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, passenger

Jennifer L. Howley

34, of New Hyde Park

Died on 9/11 in the south tower, worked at Aon Corp.


Helen Crossin Kittle

34, of Lachmont

Died on 9/11 in the north tower, worked at Cantor Fitzgerald


Vanessa Lang Langer

29, of Yonkers

Died on 9/11 in the south tower, worked at Regus Plc


Patricia Ann Cimaroli Massari

25, of Glendale, Queens

Died on 9/11 in the north tower, worked at Marsh & McLennan Cos., Inc.


Renée A. May

39, of Baltimore, Md.

Died on 9/11 aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, flight crew


Sylvia San Pio Resta

26, of Bayside, Queens

Died on 9/11 in the north tower, worked at Carr Futures, Inc.


Rahma Salie

28, of Boston

Died on 9/11 aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center, passenger


Dianne T. Signer

32, of Middle Village, Queens

Died on 9/11 in the north tower, worked at Fred Alger Management, Inc.


Source: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Follow Newsday on social media

advertisement | advertise on newsday