Inspiration
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Remembering the Female Heroes of 9/11

Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Image Courtesy of Katie Killary on Flickr (Creative Commons).

Growing up in America, I would often hear adults recall “where they were” the moment President John F. Kennedy got assassinated. I could never relate. How I wish that was still the case. For my generation, we remember where we were when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and The Pentagon.

After finishing an early morning dentist appointment, I noticed that the entire waiting room was stunned silent as they watched the horrifying events unfold on the office’s television. The moment I saw the live news footage of the World Trade Center towers, I understood why. A feeling of emptiness, shock, and awe enveloped me as never in my lifetime, or ever for that matter, had America suffered from such a significant and deadly attack on our soil. I did not know what to do next so, like everyone else in that room, I watched in horror. But what I could not know at the time was that out of the horror would come stories of unimaginable courage.

Of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the September 11 attacks, 412 were emergency workers – firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics.

On 9/11, the world watched as our firefighters bravely climbed up the stairs when everyone else ran down; as police officers remained calm as survivors fled the scene; as paramedics and EMTs helped the wounded without giving a second’s thought to their own safety.

Although the aforementioned careers are predominantly male-dominated, women too proudly served and protected on that fateful day – a fact all too often overlooked.

I don’t think there was any task that was performed down there by men that were not performed by women.” ~ Terri Tobin, Deputy Inspector of the New York Police Department

In 2011, CNN produced the documentary Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11 to emphasize women’s roles as first responders. In the film, female firefighters, police officers, and an EMT recall their experiences.

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Image Courtesy of Mike Shade on Flickr (Creative Commons).

One featured story depicts that of the late NYPD police officer Moira Smith. Moira prevented mass hysteria and crowded exits by ‘directing traffic’ with a flashlight at the ground floor of World Trade Center Tower Two. Today, survivors remember ‘the woman with the flashlight’ with extreme gratitude and appreciation, for her service not only undoubtedly saved thousands of lives, but also restored some semblance of order and control in the midst of complete and utter chaos.

However, we must not forget that Moira’s story is only one of thousands in which women (and men) displayed superhuman courage.

Instead of associating today with terror and fear, we must remember all those – including women – who stood valiantly in the face of danger in an effort to save the lives of others. Stories like Moira’s, although a tragic reminder of our female heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice, now evoke emotions of hope and strength of the human spirit – and for that we will be forever thankful.

For more information about the female heroes of 9/11, please see the following:

Cover Image Courtesy of Mark Garbowski on Flickr (Creative Commons).

This entry was posted in: Inspiration

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Hi everyone! I recently earned my Master’s degree in International Development from The New School in New York City in May 2012. With a concentration in International Development and Global Health, I have worked behind the scenes as a Research Intern for the PBS documentary Half the Sky in addition to serving as the Research and Advocacy Intern for The Hunger Project. Globally, I have taught English to kindergartners in China, have researched clean water and HIV/AIDS in Kenya, and have gained first-hand experience understanding how migrants and refugees deal with public health issues in both Mexico and Thailand. I am especially interested in food security, nutrition and hunger and the role of women and girls in each of these issues. In my free time, I enjoy playing with my ever-so-fluffy Siberian Husky, eating delicious food, training for marathons and traveling. Follow me on Twitter @E_Epstein!

5 Comments

  1. Thank you for reminding us of the bravery and courage displayed by not only by men but women like Moira Smith. You offer a refreshing perspective on such a tragic horrific event.

    • Elisabeth Epstein says

      Thank you! I can only hope that, if I found myself in a similar situation, I would be able to act as courageously as the police officers, firefighters, and EMTs did that day. We must not forget the heroes of that day.

  2. First off, your numbers are wrong.
    Of the 414 first responders who died in 9/11 412 were men, 2 were women.
    Love how you just step over the dead men and focus on a woman who directed traffic & don’t even get your numbers right. Men die 200 times more saving peoples lives & you completely ignore this point. Typical feminist scum ignoring the sacrifice of the gender doing all the hard & dangerous work. You make me sick with your evil sexist girl code pack mentality.

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