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what really happened to your loved ones on 9/11 by michael mark


To those of you who lost loved ones in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, here’s what happened in their final moments.

Your father was a hero.  When the building shook from the blast, he did not concern himself with fear.  He helped unblock an office door which had been barricaded by debris and furniture that had moved. He freed three people.

Your friend who was on the plane being hijacked recognized immediately how serious the matter was and reached to calm the shaking hand of the person in the next seat.

Your wife saw a man bleeding from his head and she tore a piece from her shirt and made a bandage for him.

Your aunt helped her co-workers who could not find the exit through the smoke – they all made it. Then she went back for others.

Your nephew who was the pilot on the plane had only the safety of everyone on board in focus every second.

Your grandfather found a young man pinned under a fallen piece of ceiling and even when the young man said go on without him – he stayed until others heard the calls and came to help.

Your husband took on the hijackers believing it would cost his life. He helped save hundreds of people neither of you will ever know.

Your grandmother who worked at the Pentagon led hundreds who were physically stronger to a secure area, putting them before her own welfare as she always has.

Your uncle gave his water to a choking woman who gave him God’s blessing with every floor they arrived at, arm in arm.

Your brother who always wanted to be a policeman knew without a doubt as he followed the cries for help up the stairs this was the moment why.

Your sister searched her entire floor to make sure everyone was out of there before she began to make her own way down.

Your friend held the exit door open for his office-mates with his wheelchair, cheering as they moved on that “We’ll all get out together.” And he didn’t so much hold on to those who lifted him down as he hugged them.

Your son would not let the tired woman stop. He cajoled her by telling her she reminded him of you; how you two had to meet. He even called her mom to keep her moving.

Your flight attendant daughter was forced to the back of the plane with all the others on board but stood in front of them in protective defiance; keeping herself between the terrorists and her passengers.

Your sister climbed back up three flights against the crowd and heat, believing her assistant was still there.

Your college buddy’s sense of humor kept all in his voice’s range smiling and moving with hope.

Your niece lent her shoulder to lean on for a man she had seen in the elevator so many times but whose name she never knew.

Your sister-in-law saw a man sitting in the stairwell coughing, and shared her asthma medicine. They moved on together.

Your firefighter brother-in-law helped hundreds of people out, redirecting them to clearer exits as he climbed higher and higher.

Your nephew and his boss carried an older woman 38 floors.

Your cousin got everyone to sing “The Long and Winding Road” as they worked their way down, making up the words they didn’t know.

Your mother’s last thoughts were the same thoughts she had as she laid her head down every night since you were born.

You wonder what happened. You want to know what these people you love were feeling, what they were thinking, what they went through in their final moments.  These are actual facts, exactly as they happened. As true as their love for you. As true as their faith in your love for them.



  1. These people are our heroes. We miss them and mourn the loss…we will never forget them. You said it beautifully.

  2. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you.

  3. Most beautiful thing I’ve read about this anniversary all week. Maybe ever. Thank you.

  4. Sharon Stanley says:

    I agree; this is the most beautiful 9/11 tribute I have every heard/read. I will repost it on my FB page.

  5. a wonderful tribute, michael. i will most definitely share this with friends.

  6. A very beautiful tribute. I didn’t lose a loved one in the attacks but like everyone else, that day deeply affected me.

  7. Carolyn Osborne says:

    How beautiful and so very true. I think all of us, no matter where we were in this world will be forever affected by this tragedy.

  8. How beatuifully this article is written! To take such a shocking jolt and turn it into love, reflections of love, this is the ultimate compliment to the world. Thank you Michael. May more and more see and feel the beauty that we can touch in our oneness, if only we let down our defenses and allow love to permeate our lives. We need not harbor negativity about this, loss and sorrow, definitely,for indeed the loss was startling! But I choose, like you to move forward in tribute to their actions. I choose love.
    Thank you~

  9. Laura Ruthemeyer says:

    I probably should not have read this at my desk this morning, as the tears flow freely.
    Thank you for that, it was beautiful and, obviously, extremely moving.

    We are strong as one, and unstoppable as a whole.

    I hope we never lose sight of what we are made of. Heart, compassion, and impossible strength.

    Peace in our lifetime,

  10. Heidi Hurley says:

    Thank you Michael… Love your words, so wonderful… Thank you.

  11. Love this! Beautifully done.

  12. Thank you for posting.
    My daughter and I were right across the west side hwy when both buildings fell. We basically escaped lower Manhattan by jumping on an abandoned bus idling on the highway. The bus driver had run out of it , left the keys still in and the bus running, thinking the buildings were going to fall on him.
    Eventually a kid got behind the wheel and drove everyone on the bus to the east side, where we felt was safer.
    A man saw my 6 yr old daughter completely covered in dust, itching and breathing in an envelope that i happened to have in my purse. –
    He took off his shirt and gave it to her so she could either change her clothes or breathe into it.
    I have never been able to thank him, so I always post this story hoping he will read my of gratitude someday.
    He was and is a hero to us.

  13. The most beautiful tribute I have read on this day of remembering. Thank you.

  14. What a great way to celebrate instead of mourn those that died. Thank you for the uplifting remembrance.

  15. I love that you’re celebrating the strength and goodness of people. Really love that.

  16. Kris Friend says:

    A loving tribute providing comfort and closure where there has been a void. Thank you. Thank you all, the fallen and the survivors. Know you inspire us everyday.

  17. The enormity of what happened that day will always bring tears and complete disbelief at what humans (the evil ones) are capable of. I also often think so much of the heroes that day….each and every one of them were faced with a horror that is unimaginable. I thought this was a beautiful tribute to those folks that never made it home that day 11 years ago. They should never be forgotten! My thoughts and prayers are with all their surviving family members!

  18. Raedine Lillie says:

    When situations are difficult, it is heart warming how our fellow man always steps up with courage to help one another. Thank you for a beautiful article.

  19. This is so beautiful. There were so many heroes that day. My heart aches for those who lost their lives and their families. Thank you for sharing this with us today.

  20. Thank you, thank you. This was so beautifu and healing. Thank you.

  21. Pamela Lear says:

    Absolutely beautiful tribute; thanks for offering us another way to look at this tragedy and see the spirit and humanity of others. Thank you, Michael

  22. An absolutely beautiful tribute to such an ugly tragedy.

  23. Allyson Bossie says:

    Thank you Michael for a gorgeous tribute to those we lost!

  24. Beautifully written. Thank you.

  25. Elizabeth Towns says:

    I, like so many across the nation, have been forever changed by 9/11/2001. Your tribute is beautiful. I wrote about 9/11 today as well. I have been reading some of the comments on this post and am moved to tears yet again. We will never be the same, but we will be better, stronger, different. God bless America.

  26. Beautiful and heart wrenching.

  27. This is a beautiful post to honor those who lost their lives that day…

  28. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    One of the most beautiful posts I have ever read.

  29. So thoughtfully written. Thank you for sharing your words.

  30. Beautiful tribute to read on this sad day. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Marvelous post that honors the true heroes of that horrific day.

    Thinking of the young children who lost a parent or grandparent they will never know, this honors them.

  32. Very beautiful tribute to honor this who have lost a loved one.

  33. Very well written. And it helps to bring to life that day. These people were true heroes and ones we should look up to and model after. Not politicians, sports stars, actors or musicians. But these every day people who did the most extraordinary!

  34. Lovely. Thank you.

  35. So eloquently written with pure simplicity, depth, emotion and love. Your descriptions are heart-warming and brought me to tears. Absolutely beautiful.

  36. What a moving post. Thank you for sharing it.

  37. Carpool Goddess says:

    This is so incredibly touching and beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a loving tribute.

  38. Thank you so much for reposting the fantastic heartfelt words of Michael…..really beautiful and still as important to be said and read today as the day many of us experienced political terror for the first time in our lives. How fortunate we are to live in this hemisphere often deplete of terror giving us a very small taste of what many in the world experience too often.

  39. Crying. Such a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing this Lois.

  40. Comforting, compassionate words from your husband, Lois. They feel like a hug on a very difficult day for many. Hugs to you and to him for sharing.

  41. On that day, the one in which we saw the worst of humanity, we also saw the best.

  42. Every year I dread this day. Tons of bad memories come flooding back.

  43. I love this piece and perspective as much, if not more, than when I read it last year. Sending positive energy to the world is so “MiLo”.

  44. Beautiful, I’m moved to tears.

  45. Beautiful.

  46. I still have trouble wrapping my brain around what happened that day. It was over a decade ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.

  47. So powerfully beautiful. Michael has written such a beautiful tribute.

  48. Great words to what so many of us were wondering about. I recently heard a man talking about what his wife said to him on her cell phone in her final moments on that plane. Touching.

  49. What a beautiful post to commemorate the people we lost during those tragic events. We will never forget.

  50. What a tribute. Thank you for sharing this.

  51. {{hugs}} from your Canadian friends.
    We will never forget the tragedy that struck your country and we stand beside you!

  52. Tears, nothing but tears. We lost a dear friend of 20 years in the Pentagon. We grew up together and I think of him every year.

  53. I remember going to the Memorial site in New Jersey about the Sept 11th. It always give me goosebumps. Always think and pray for families who lost their loved ones on that day.

  54. I was in NYC a couple of years ago and got some first hand accounts from people who live there. They were so generous to paint the picture and i was honored to listen. So important to keep those memories alive.

  55. What a powerful post. 9/11 was such a touching moment for all no matter what part of the states you were from. We all felt some effect.

  56. I pray he never has to write such a tribute again.

  57. What a sad day in American history, a day I will never forget. What a beautiful post and a great way to remember.

  58. this still gives me chills. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and my husband did not travel to the twin towers that month bc of this. his office was there. It still moves me as we have a dear friend who lost their life as he told his wife he would let those in the other tower escape first.

  59. we will never forget 9/11. where you were, who you were with – i remember it all.

  60. Such a beautiful tribute to all the heroes. Beautiful.

  61. What a touching tribute. It was absolutely beautiful to read.

  62. This is such a touching post. 9/11 is definitely a day that will never be forgotten.

  63. Amanda Love says:

    As someone who was actually there in NY when it happened and saw the entire thing this is a very beautiful tribute to them. Gone but not forgotten!

  64. I remember every single minute of that fateful day. It’s so important to remember what happened so that it will never happen again.

  65. I was a wreck with emotion today over the people lost.

  66. This is quite possibly the most beautiful tribute that I’ve ever read. I’m in tears. Absolutely brilliantly and perfectly written.

  67. Simply beautiful. We’ll never forget.

  68. This is such a beautiful tribute to those who died on that horrible day. Thank you for sharing!

  69. This was beautiful and brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing this.

  70. Such a beautiful tribute to all the fallen heroes. Beautiful.

  71. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    Very well said. We need to remember the heroes in such a terrible time.

  72. This is such a loving and caring tribute to honor the heroes of 911. So many gave so much.

  73. It was amazing how people came together during and after. Such a tragedy that they had to.

  74. Really touching and beautiful post! A great tribute to the heroes!

  75. This was very beautiful, and also so very very true. What a wonderful tribute.

  76. This is a great tribute. I definitely agree that those who perished didn’t all spend their last moments in fear. They were heroes.

  77. Thank you for such a touching post.

  78. What a beautiful, well written and touching tribute. That was a very difficult time for so many.

  79. So beautiful. So powerful. Thank you for sharing this!

  80. Yesterday and today have been so sad for me– I started weeping watching the tributes and listening to the reading of all the names. A few months ago, my much too young cousin died of a heart attack…he would have been 35 today. So again, today– memories are leaking out of my eyes and rolling down my cheeks…enough for a flood.
    This was a really beautiful post– and I like to think along the same lines. Charlie was happy and lived every minute to the fullest, and his last moments on Earth were in his home, with his Angela and their doggie. Even though his time was short–he was happy and so well loved.

  81. Great tribute! It seems just like yesterday that this terrible thing happened.

  82. This is the best 9/11 post I have ever read! Thank you so so much for sharing!

  83. What a great tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11. I love that you did not commercial this event. Thank you for writing this.

  84. Beautiful! A perfect way to share a tribute with us.

  85. This is such a great tribute. Makes me want to cry inside but so beautiful.

  86. This is so beautiful, I will always remember where I was on that day. May they all rest in peace <3

  87. What a nice way to remember the last moments of loved ones lost during 9/11. Hope the families find peace and comfort.

  88. This is a great post. I didn’t lose anyone but it gives me insight on what people might have been thinking in those final moments. Even 13 years later it saddens me when I think about seeing the second plane hit the building on the news all those years ago.

  89. Oh my gosh – this is beyond beautiful. i have tears running down my face and goosebumps covering my body. What a tribute.

  90. So beautifully written . Was in tears at the end. Thank you Michael.

  91. Lois Stanton Van Dahm says:

    Michael Mark, your words have touched my heart ;they will be seared there forever.

  92. A beautiful tribute! Loved it!

  93. I know people who lost loved ones on 9-11. I cried my way through this post.

  94. I was there. This is true. So often you see “Heroes of 9/11” and it’s the firefighters and police, and they were, but there were so many other heroes too. Thank you.

  95. What a wonderful tribute to those who lost their lives as well as so very healing to their families. Our daughter was at NYU during 9-11. It is always a very sad day for her as she lost many friends who were working in those buildings. When she looked out her apartment window, it looked like a war zone…….people running and screaming, smoke and soot everywhere. It will be forever be embedded in her memory. Thank you for this beautiful post.

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