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How did 9/11 change your life? NYers tell us


ironworkers Photo Credit: Andrew Hinderaker

How did Sept. 11, 2001 change you? What did you learn and how are you different than before? Here is what some New Yorkers told us:

George Gagnon, 59, New Jersey and Bill Ferraro, 63, Brooklyn -- Ironworkers Local 580 and Vietnam veterans who worked on the pile for five weeks.

Ferraro: People were running away from the WTC, but the iron workers ran toward it. I worked on the first of the towers when they went up, I worked on the pile and now I’m on the one (tower) that’s going up.

When they went down, I felt I had failed somehow. What did we do wrong? It’s insane, but it’s the thought that never goes away.

The new World Trade Center we’re building has more steel than went into the first two towers, but I know that no matter hard we work, what we build can be taken away.

Gagnon: I was fine until then. Now I’ve got a triple bypass and 12 stents. I still get nightmares. I still see this dead lady we found under a beam. I used to think coming down here was fun. Now, every time I do I get really angry: I can’t get rid of my anger.

Dr. Antonio Dajer, 54, Conn.

The chairman of emergency medicine at New York Downtown Hospital was working on 9/11. The facility handled 1,500 patients in two days.

I’m more confident because I realized I can handle almost anything, as can the people around me. …I was forced to look at larger issues such as how can we make the world a more loving place?

We spend fortunes on esoteric machinery and attempting to safeguard against every contingency, but if we can’t treat a dental infection, we shouldn’t be spending money on disaster preparedness.

We’ve doubled the size of our emergency room and made sure that all our disaster materials are accessible. I try to anticipate other people’s mistakes so that we might avoid them.

Tobias Luna, 19, college student, Queens

My whole childhood was divided into before and after 9/11. It was our JFK assassination or Pearl Harbor. …My father spent his entire life savings on a house in upstate New York because he was so afraid of another attack.

As a result, I got really intrigued with what happens in the world and found my direction. …I want to be a U.S. Senator. I want the authority to make decisions transparently, to really connect with the American people.

Christine Tortora, 33, fashion designer, BrooklynI lost two really important people – my brother’s friends Joseph Dellapietra and Terrence Gazzani. I don’t plan very far ahead any more. I just live for the moment. I moved to Florence, Italy. Realizing that your life can be over at any time is what gave me the courage to do it. 

Enid Pabon, 38, the Bronx. She lost her brother, Israel Pabon, 33, on 9/11.

Because my brother died so young and so full of life, I stopped fearing death: I know I can’t control what happens. … As a mother I worry more: I don’t want to feel the pain my mother (felt) – my mother has suffered so much.

Averie Rosemark, 63, Wall Street

I got a little more religious and patriotic. I have a great faith and belief in God and I wear a little American flag pin now. Every time I say goodbye to someone I love, I tell them I love them because you never know what might happen.


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