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How 9/11 Changed Us

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Gillian Caldwell
Executive director, Witness, a human-rights-advocacy group. She and her husband decided to have a baby after 9/11.

Having a child was something I had always planned to do at some stage of the game, but the timing never really seemed right. I was too busy to figure out how I was going to do both—parenting and my job. Then September 11 came.

A lot of people were having the reaction that they wouldn’t want to bring a child into a world this crazy. But other people had the opposite reaction. In the face of all kinds of disasters and death and destruction, people come home on some deeper psychological and emotional level. They reassess their priorities, and they reassess their lives. They say, “This is what it’s about: love and connection and communion.” And they feel they’ve got to get these priorities more squarely aligned. That was my reaction. That’s a blessing.

Louis Spitzer
Gillian Caldwell’s partner.

Almost a month later, Gillian was out with a good friend of hers whose brother-in-law died. The next morning, I was in the front, gardening. She came out and lay down on the sidewalk. She was like, “Louis, come here. Lie down next to me.” Okay, fine. Then we moved inside. To the living room or the dining room, to wherever we decided was a good place. Before that, we had used contraception. But not after.

It was really clear that 9/11 was the impetus. We had talked about it before, but we were nowhere near saying we should do this right now. After that day, we had long talks about having a kid and what it means. I had been working at Streetbeam—9/11 literally knocked Streetbeam out of existence. We know the world is fucked up. Terrible things happen all the time, but what can you do to change that? What can you do to make life better? We figured this was a good way. It’s all about hope. Do you want to even bring a child into a world like this? If you have hope, then go ahead.

Christian Waugh
Retired firefighter. He was one of five people who were photographed carrying the body of Father Mychal Judge out of the World Trade Center.

I retired in June—I knew right away I wanted to get out. That was it for me. I got hurt down there. I tore up a lot of knee ligaments. In May, I had a total knee replacement, and I’m still recuperating. I’m taking things a lot slower, relaxing more, doing more with the family. Trying to move on. I pay more attention at home. We’ve gone to the Jersey shore, gone fishing as a family. I have two grown kids. One’s in the Fire Department, and the other one is going in January. It makes me nervous and proud, a little of both. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again and they both have good careers, like I did.

At the time, I thought photographing Father Judge that way was in very bad taste. I went after Shannon Stapleton, the photographer. I started screaming at him. I knew that thing was gonna be out on the Internet in a half-hour. How do you think Father Judge’s family felt looking at that?

Now, at night, I still see the faces of my friends, the guys we lost. I wake up thinking about it. I don’t know if that will ever go away. You say, Why me? I don’t know. I guess I was in the right place at the wrong time, or the wrong place at the right time. Father Judge got us out—or did we get him out?

“Now, at night, I still see the faces of my friends, the guys we lost. I wake up thinking about it. I don’t know if that will ever go away.”

Andrew Schwarz
Trader for AGS Specialist Partners on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. Nine Amex members who were at Windows on the World died in the collapse.

Those guys worked in the booth across from where we work, and we were very good friends. Our floor has changed so dramatically since that day. It just never recovered. It’s never gone back to the way it was. We were famous in the industry for practical jokes, for having a sense of humor. Harmless things, juvenile humor. It’s absolutely different from the New York Stock Exchange. They wouldn’t put up with that stuff. But we were always the rogue exchange. That’s gone. It’s sad. But it’s gone. And it’s never going to come back. It’s remarkable how the loss of the lives of those guys who had breakfast up there just continues to affect an entire exchange floor. It’s amazing. There are no degrees of separation.


Lynn Huie and Liza Murphy: "We loved Charlie, and he loved Lynne so much."  

Liza Murphy
Oxford University Press sales director. She is the sister of Charlie Murphy, Cantor Fitzgerald trader.

Charlie was the fifth of seven children in our family, and he had the ability to make everyone laugh, to dissipate all the family tension. Nobody else has that talent. In August 2001, we all went to a beach house in New Jersey, which we did every summer, and he made us all gather together for a group photo. He called out, “Everyone get down here, no excuses!”

For the first month after my brother died, I had these incredible nightmares. But I also had a newborn, and it was hard for me to be miserable all the time. I got a lot of strength from my two children. And I made a conscious decision that the way to honor Charlie was to adopt the way he lived his life. To take the time to say, “Look at the sky, it’s a great color.” To live more exuberantly.

We see a lot of Charlie’s fiancée, Lynna Huie. She’s like a sister; she’s one of us. She had worked at Cantor, but she left a few years ago. As for the money in his estate, while legally it goes to my mother, we feel morally that some of it belongs to Lynna. My mother just helped her buy an apartment. That’s what Charlie would have wanted—we wouldn’t want him to think we acted like jerks. We loved Charlie, and he loved Lynna so much.

Lynna Huie
Fiancée of Charlie Murphy.

Charlie and I were involved for three and a half years and were living together, and we had just gotten engaged in June 2001. He was very funny and smart and a wise-ass type. I left Cantor in 1999, and he was supporting me while I went to John Jay College. After he died, his whole family stayed at our apartment for two weeks. They still invite me to every family event—Christmas, get-togethers.

After Charlie died, I withdrew from school for a semester, then I went back and graduated. I’m starting business school this fall, at night, going to Pace. This wasn’t in my plan. I don’t know what my life would be like if Charlie and I had gotten married. I just bought an apartment and moved in two weeks ago. The Murphys kind of suggested it, and I did it.

I was dating someone for a while recently—we just broke up—but Charlie’s family understood about the whole companionship thing; they weren’t upset. Liza has helped me enormously—all the paperwork, she just did everything. I love her. Charlie held his family together; he was the glue. Because of how he felt for me, I am a connection to him, and they take that into consideration.

Alison Crowther
Mother of Welles Crowther, who worked on the 104th floor of the south tower.

When the account of that morning came out in the Times, I saw that at 9:05 in the South Tower, in the sky lobby of the 78th floor, a large group of people were trying to figure out whether to head back up or down. One woman said that suddenly a man in a red kerchief came from out of nowhere and helped them out. He was shouting for a fire extinguisher, then he came back and said, “Go to the stairs.”

Welles always carried a bandanna, just like his father, in his business suit. Like his father, he was a volunteer with the Empire Hook and Ladder Co. No 1 of Upper Nyack.

Later, officials from the medical examiner’s office said that based on where Welles was found, he’d been working at an emergency-services command center. Most of the people they found there were police and firemen. They couldn’t figure out at the time why a civilian would be there. Save for his coming home, this is the greatest gift we could get. That’s a great blessing for us to know how he went—that he hadn’t been trapped in his office. It was his choice and his duty. He looked the devil straight in the eye that day and fought with everything he had.

Now Welles’s story is all over the Internet. We’ve gotten calls from people we don’t know asking for permission to name their children after Welles. In May, his sister had her wedding. I truly felt I was spiritually visited by Welles during Communion, and that was very powerful. I wasn’t expecting anything like that. When we came out of the service, the Empire Hook and Ladder Co. truck was in front of the church. It was a false alarm. We all figured Welles must have pulled it.


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