It’s not just about me

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Over the last week or so I have had a similar conversation with different friends. They stumble through saying something like : “so does September 11 get easier?” “well, I know it doesn’t get easier but …”

Personally I think  it has gotten harder because now September 11 isn’t just about “my personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy.” Last week I had a delightful lunch with 7 fellow docents and friends  – a mom who lost her son, a widow, three downtown residents, a firefighter and a Port Authority employee. I know their stories and struggles. I thought of them and others on September 11. They commented that this year was harder and they couldn’t understand why. I shared my theory that it was harder because we carry each other’s stories in our hearts.

So does September 11 get easier with the passage of time:

Yes, because I don’t worry about people’s expectations.

No, because I realize how much Bruce has missed and how much I miss him.

No, because it not  just about me and my family. It is about my Tribute friends and their stories.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

C. S. Lewis


The Star Spangled Banner

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Today is the 200th birthday of the Star Spangled Banner. There is very interesting information to be found at Whether I hear the Star Spangled Banner sung live at an event or on television, I always cry. It doesn’t have to be sung well. From the first notes my eyes are welling up then the goose bumps start and by the time the words “the land of the free and home of the brave” are sung I am “done.” I have the privilege of living in the “land of the free” but that freedom cost many men and women their lives. “Home of the brave” carries a new meaning for me because my hubby was one of New York “bravest”. Well done, Francis Scott Key!



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Living his dream

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On March 12, 1990, my hubby would recive the letter that he never thought he would receive. The letter from the FDNY stating “Congratulations! You are being offered the opportunity to be appointed as a New York City Firefighter. The appointment is to be effective on Sunday March 25, 1990 at 9:00AM followed by a one year probationary period.”

Below is the text of a letter my husband wrote to me:

 Dear Ann, I never thought that this day would ever happen, only a dream. I want to say to you thank you for the past 8 or so years + putting up with F.D.N.Y. all the time. You have been a real encouragement to me as we walk side by side down our married life. Just think, this now ends career of the week. In 1973 in California I read Report from Engine Co. 82. Never did I ever dream that I would be a NYC firefighter. Those people in the book seemed out of reach. I never thought I had what it took to be a firefighter in the Big Apple due to my low self-esteem. This could not have been possible with out your encouragement and love. I thank the Lord for you and this day.

I’ll always love you, Bruce

See you later


He was living his dream on September 11, 2001. What I love about this letter is the little footnote -“See you later” because I will. 🙂


A photo of the letter and his class photo. Bruce is last row, second person from the left.

FAQs about 9/11

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A few of the Frequently Asked Questions about September 11 that I have  answered many times while leading tours or speaking to school groups.

In regard to my personal connection:
1. Did you talk to your husband that day? No, but I didn’t expect to. He was on duty. He was working.

2. Were you worried about your husband?  As I watched the events unfold on the television I was worried about us as a nation. My main concern was how was I going to handle things and protect our daughters until he could get home. As a firefighter’s wife, I knew Bruce was well-trained and that his fellow firefighters had his back.

 3. How are your daughters? Since September 11, 2001, they have graduated from high school, college, and graduate school. Meet wonderful men and married. Bruce would very proud of the women “his girls” have become. My daughters appreciate when people say their father was a hero but they didn’t lose a hero, they lost their daddy. I am a very proud mom and will talk your ear off about “my girls and their guys.”

4. Isn’t difficult for you to come here (WTC site)? It is more difficult for me to go to Bruce’s firehouse. It probably sounds strange but I don’t associate him with being here. Before I started volunteering at the Tribute Center I didn’t have a strong connection to the WTC site. I had only been here twice in my entire life. Once as a teen and once with Bruce on July 4, 1976.

5. How do you deal with the hate? I don’t  have time to hate. I had two daughters to raise, a business to run and life to live.  I believe Bruce died in the line of duty so no one took his life, he gave it.

6. Were you excited when bin laden was killed? I hadn’t spent 10 years waiting for bin laden to be killed (5/1/11). A long time ago I read or heard the following “the opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference”. The truth is on May 28, 2011 as on August 4, 2006 whether bin laden was dead or alive, my husband wasn’t there to walk his daughters down the aisle.

7. Have you ever read the names on September 11? I have been invited to participate in the name reading each year. The one day of the year I don’t visit the WTC site is September 11. I don’t think I can handle the grief of all of those people.

General information questions:

1. What do you think about the conspiracy theories? I think when the unimaginable happens one of the ways we try to explain it is with conspiracy theories. Popular Mechanics had a great article a few years back that debunked many of the theories.

2. What do you think about the mosque and where was it going to be built? I believe if we stop a mosque from being built this week, next week we will stop allowing Protestant churches and then the week after Catholic churches and then Jewish synagogues. There is freedom of religion in the US and that is freedom for all religions. I will add “that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.”

3. What do you think about the government in relation to September 11? One of the things I remember my dad saying after September 11 was” the first job of a government is to protect its people.” I believe that the government let us down but I am hopefully that the “alphabet agencies” are talking to each other. I am proud to be an American. I support those who serve our nation in the military and foreign service.

There is one question that always surprises me when it is asked. It has made me wonder if I have told the story in a way students can understand. But then I realized even hearing all of the facts the one thing that is impossible to comprehend is hating someone so much that you would kill yourself.

“What happened to the terrorists that hijacked the plane?  Did we capture them? Are they in prison?”

Now I actually find comfort in that question because it means the chid asking can’t comprehend that kind of hate.





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A September Monday

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On a Monday in September of 1975 I lost my job, started a small business and meet my future husband. Really, that all happened on the same day. My employer, teacher, mentor called and cut my teaching hours to a minimum. Shocked and totally dismayed I told my dad, he said “what to do want to do?”. Tearfully I said “teach little girls to dance.” “So let’s figure out how you can do that.” My dad and I sat at the dining room table, planned and the result was The New School of Dance Arts. Did I mention I was 21 years old?

Later that same day the phone rang, Carol said “Craig is here and he has some guy he wants you to meet. We are coming over.” That guy was Bruce Van Hine. A week or so later Bruce would ask me out. We started dating and on June 14, 1980 were married. Side note: Craig would also introduce Carol to her hubby.

In 1976, Carol would “buy” into my business. Actually she matched the funds that were in the checking account ($100) and we became business partners. It doesn’t matter that isn’t the right way to do that because we retired from that business in 2011 after 35 years. Oh, and she is still my bestest friend.

With much apprehension in the fall of 2001, I would check the calendar to make sure that September 11, 1975 was not a Monday. It was a Thursday.


Moving towards the source

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Many times when I use my iPad while laying in bed the internet connection is lost. I used to move my iPad side to side or hold it over my head and wave it back and forth to try to reconnect. It was frustrating.

Then one day I realized if I get up, walk a few steps towards the hallway it automatically reconnects. Why because I am heading closer to the router, closer to the source. So now when I realize the connection failed I walk towards the source of the power.

So here’s my thought of the day – where else in my life instead of moving side to side or be tossed back and forth would moving closer to the “source” result in reconnection or does all of life result in connecting when you get closer to the source. 🙂

random job thoughts

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Japan 035

Three years ago I retired from teaching dance. For 35 years I had owned a dancing school, I was very blessed to spend my “working” career doing something I loved and enjoyed. I also love and enjoy my retired life. On occasion as I watch people do their jobs I think I would like to try that not as a career but for a day or two. Does anyone besides me ever think that?

Here is the list of jobs I would like to try for a day or two:

flight attendant
toll booth collector
the person who directs the planes with the flashlights
registrar of participants at a big event like the Olympics
usher at a Broadway show
fund-raiser for a non-profit
assistant to a party/event planner
TSA agent who checks passports not the one who looks at the x-ray screen
work in an independent book store

A few things I noticed about these jobs:
1. no animals
2. no manual labor
3. inside jobs expect for the flashlight person
4. no food service expect for flight attendant

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.