January 19, 2009

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January 19, 2009


Dear Families and Friends,


I write this letter from Washington, DC, on the eve of the inauguration, where together with millions of others, I will be honored to witness the historic inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama.


As I contemplate this milestone event, and feel the excitement and anticipation of tomorrow’s ceremony, I am struck by both the challenges that face the new administration, as well as the opportunities for enormous change during this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.  As so many of us found firsthand on September 11th, tragic loss and difficult challenges can personally transform our lives and thrust us into becoming catalysts for change – promoting change for our families, our communities and our world.  I am certain that our collective efforts will continue to make a meaningful difference and resonate for future generations.  


As I attend tomorrow’s ceremony, I will treasure being part of this inspiring event, hopeful that the incoming President will share your resilience, hope for the future and commitment to make our world a better place. 


Warm Regards,

Mary and the Voices Staff



VOICES Programs and events


9/11 Living Memorial Workshop Schedule

VOICES is putting together its workshop schedule for 2009. If you would like us to come to your neighborhood, please contact us so we can consider including it in our schedule for the coming year. For more information, or to register for the workshops below, contact Michelle Doherty at VOICES of September 11th, (203) 966-3911 or by e-mail to mdoherty@voicesofsept11.org. You can also schedule an individual Living Memorial appointment at our Connecticut office.


New Brunswick, New Jersey

Date: Tuesday, January 27th

Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm

Location: New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), 120 Albany Street, Tower 1, 7th Floor, New Brunswick, New Jersey


KBW, New York
Date: Thursday, January 29th for KBW families
Time: 10:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, 787 7th Avenue, Fourth Floor, New York, NY


VOICES, New Canaan

Date: Friday, February 6th

Time: 10:00am to 3:00pm by Appointment

Location: Voices of September 11th, 161 Cherry Street, Second Floor, New Canaan, CT


KBW, New York
Date: Thursday, February 12th for KBW families
Time: 10:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, 787 7th Avenue, Fourth Floor, New York, NY


Manhasset, New York
Date: Tuesday, February 17th
Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Manhasset Public Library, 30 Onderdonk Avenue, Manhasset, NY 11030


Teleconference Schedule:

Voices of September 11th offers teleconference groups that are facilitated by our mental health professionals. The teleconference groups provide an opportunity for those impacted by 9/11 to talk with others that share their same experience. Please contact our office at (203) 966-3911 if you are interested in participating.


Tuesday, January 20th – Wives with No or Older Children Teleconference Group, 10:30am to 11:30am

Tuesday, January 20th – Parents Teleconference Group, 3:45pm to 5:00pm

Tuesday, January 20th – Rockland County Parents In Person Group, 7:00pm to 9:00pm


In the News


Shanksville Memorial a Reality

The National Park Service, together with advocacy organization Families of Flight 93, has reached an agreement with Svonavec, Inc., paving the way for an official memorial to honor the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, PA on September 11th, 2001. Svonavec owns the 274-acre parcel where the plane went down. Since then, even without proper facilities, 140,000 people have come every year to pay their respects. The agreement provides that a condemnation suit will be filed in federal court to determine the parcel’s value, but the National Park Service will take ownership at the start of that proceeding.


Read more at the NY Times.


Contractor Reluctant to Answer Safety Questions about Deutsche Bank Fire

James Abadie of Bovis Lend Lease is refusing to answer questions regarding conditions that may have led to the deaths of two firefighters in the 2007 Deutsche Bank fire. The City Council’s Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment had called the contractor to a hearing in order to discuss possible errors before the fire and examine changes in procedures. However, Mr. Abadie did not want to participate, citing both former and current investigations into the fire by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The committee chairman, Alan J. Gerson, expressed frustration with the refusal, stating safety practices need to be explored.


Read more at the NY Times.


Artifact from Pentagon Attack Added to NM Memorial Park

The 9/11 Memorial Park in Belen, New Mexico has added a 10,000 lb. limestone slab from the Pentagon to its display. The park, which has been nationally recognized by Life Magazine and others as one of the few 9/11 memorial parks outside cities directly affected, has an elaborate exhibit to honor lives lost, and the heroes who tried to save them. The Memorial has been spearheaded by a mother, Gloria Sanchez, whose son was a first responder to the Pentagon on 9/11.


Read more at the Valencia County News-Bulletin.


Chertoff Describes Pressures of Fighting Terrorism

In an interview with ABC News, outgoing Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff describes the personal burdens associated with protecting the country from terrorism and other disasters.


To read more about the interview, visit ABC News.


Closing Guantanamo More Complex than Issuing an Executive Order

While it appears that President-elect Barack Obama may well close the prison at Guantanamo Bay by executive order immediately upon assuming office, as a practical matter, disbanding the facility may take as long as a year. Officials will have to transfer 248 prisoners to other countries and make many legal decisions, including how to try suspects.


Read more at the NY Times.


Victims’ Families Pursue Release of Documents on 9/11 Security Failures

Three families who are pursuing wrongful death and injury lawsuits in connection with the deaths of their relatives on 9/11 have asked Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan to release millions of documents they say will shed light on aviation security failures that day. The documents were obtained from the airlines, security firms and others being sued by the families. Lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote: “The public ought to know about the breakdowns in aviation security that allowed four commercial planes to become weapons of mass destruction.”


The release of these documents, as in other cases, has aroused debate, pitting the public’s right to know against security concerns.


For more, read the NY Times.


Red Cross Provides Advice for Attendees of Presidential Inauguration

The American Red Cross is providing detailed preparedness information and helpful links for the millions expected to attend Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration next week.


To plan your visit, visit the Red Cross.


Guantanamo Detainee Tortured, States Trial Overseer

Susan J. Crawford, a Bush Administration official who decides whether Guantanamo detainees will come to trial, discussed US treatment of Mohammed Al Qahtani, who has been dubbed September 11th’s "20th hijacker.” She said: "His treatment met the legal definition of torture."


Read more at the Washington Post.


NYC Fire Department and IBM Create Central Databank for Building Safety

The 2007 Deutsche Bank fire that resulted in the deaths of two firefighters has led to the creation of a central databank for all New York City (NYC) building and safety information. The databank came about through a partnership between the NYC Fire Department and IBM. The hope is that firefighters will eventually have quick access to all pertinent information when they inspect buildings or enter them during a fire. The databank should also serve as a model for other fire departments throughout the nation.


Read more at Newsday.