Thursday, 10 September 2009

Project 2,996: Rosa Gonzalez

Today, I remember Rosa Gonzalez, a victim of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11th 2001. I’m writing this today as part of Project 2,996 and you can visit the site to read more tributes to the victims of 9/11.  An amazing 1,081 people (so far) will be remembered formally this year through Project 2,996 but the purpose of the project is to let the world know that we will never forget.  We will never forget the victims or the loss experienced by their families, friends, communities and indeed, the world.
Rosa Gonzalez was a single mother aged 32 and her 12-year-old daughter Jennifer meant the world to her.  She was very much loved by all who knew her and as her brother-in-law Jeffrey said in a tribute to her on the Legacy site, “Rosa was also a beautiful and caring person that certainly did not deserve to die in this way… Rosa was a single mother that really making an effort to better herself and give her daughter the best upbringing possible. Her job with the Port Authority was another step towards success”.

Jeffrey and his wife took Jennifer in after 9/11.  Shortly after the attacks, Rosa Gonzalez phoned her sister Migdalia from the 66th floor of 2 World Trade Center, told her she loved her and asked her sister to take care of her daughter.  The New York Times tribute to Rosa quotes her sister Maria as saying, “Of course, Migdalia will take care of Jennifer.  We will all take care of Jennifer. The situation is, we have to be strong for Jennifer.”
Rosa Gonzalez was one of seven sisters and she lived in New Jersey.  It is clear that everyone who met her was taken by her infectious smile and friendly nature.  As P. Martinez says on the Legacy site, “"I met Rosa a couple of years ago when she was working at the Housing Authority. She was always so happy and up-beat, kind and caring… My heart goes out to her daughter, I hope she'll always know what a great mother she had. I'm sorry Rosa that your life was cut so short”.
It is clear that Rosa stood out in the community and people remembered her once they had met her.  This is evidenced by the number of people that expressed guilt at escaping from the Twin Towers themselves and their sadness of hearing of Rosa’s passing.  I found the comments by her neighbour Cindy to be especially poignant as her grief was clear in her remarks: “It has taken me this long to be able to view this site. Rosa, Maggie and I lived in the same building and I still remember the day I was able to get home and found out Rosa wasn't. Sitting in the apartment with her family, posting pictures, leaving candles and flowers and waiting for any word at all. Although we were not close friends I will always remember the beautiful petite woman that Rosa was. I would give anything to be able to call her again to ask her to turn the music down!! Maggie I will always be here for you if you need me for anything”.
Rosa Gonzalez had been with her friend and colleague Genelle Guzman McMillan as they descended the stairs together and tried to escape from the World Trade Center.  They had been holding hands but were separated as the building came crashing down.  Genelle was the last person pulled out of the wreckage of the World Trade Center alive.
Rosa was one woman out of so many that died that day but she was a kind, caring and friendly woman who left behind heartbroken family, friends and co-workers and most importantly, her 12-year-old daughter Jennifer.  I hope that I have succeeded in paying tribute to Rosa Gonzalez and that her daughter knows that people all around the world are thinking of her and her family on this anniversary of the attacks.  Jennifer also left a tribute at the Legacy site: “hi my names jen rosa was my mother she was a very good person i love u and miss u so much we will never forgat u ever”.
I’ll be posting this one day early so as to assist the people at Project 2,996 in logging the names of this year’s participants.  They have over a thousand entries to log after all!


  1. OMG, this just completely tore me up to tears. I am so sorry--especially for her darling daughter. How sad. And to think much of all those on the streets celebrating from Palestine and across.

  2. A beautiful tribute for a beautiful life lost. I honor Christopher Paul Slattery.

  3. Thank you for your beautiful tribute to Rosa.. She sounds like an amazing woman

    I honor Battalion Commander Dennis Devlin and firefighter Lawrence Veling on my blog

  4. What a tragedy, just one of so many lives destroyed and changed forever that fateful day...

  5. I very much admire what you are doing. This was a poignant and beautiful tribute to Rosa. May we never forget....

  6. Nice tribute and beautiful post. Glad to see you signed up with the 2,996 Project as well.

  7. Emm, this is off the topic. I just want you o know that you have an impressive blog. I'll keep coming back.

    Ms. Khaye

  8. @ ...mmm...: Do you think people are celebrating? I continue to believe that terrorists are in the minority and that the majority of people abhor terrorism in all forms.

    @ Alicia and Kim: Thank you for stopping by, reading and commenting. I'm in the middle of moving house at the moment (bad timing!) but as soon as I get a chance, I will visit your blogs.

    @ Gaelikaa: I agree - I think the entire world changed that day.

    @ askcherlock: Yes, may we never forget indeed.

    @ The Bobo: Thank you - it was the post on your blog that alerted me to the project and made me sign up in the first place.

    @ Khaye: It's okay Khaye - I like you so youoyu're welcome to go off topic once in a while.

  9. hi emm...a very touching story. i always find myself tearing up whenever I hear or read stories about mothers and their kids. breaks my heart that people like rosa, who are beautiful inside & out, leave this earth under such circumstances. though i'm from the philippines, i can feel for the thousands of americans who lost their loved ones on 9-11. when i visited NY just 7 mos. after the attacks, i was deeply saddened to see photos of missing people mounted on a makeshift wall at this church near ground zero. it moved me. couldnt shake off the image i saw nearing ground zero -- dust still on windows & on the street, shops closed. it was like a ghost town then.

    i will pray for her soul. i will pray for her daughter. i will pray for everyone who died from that tragedy. i will pray for the families they left behind.

    thanks emm for sharing this w/ us.

  10. @ Mama Mia: Wow, that must have been a very moving experience! I too am from another country but I think the whole world was united in grief after the attacks.

  11. I lived in the same building as Rosa & her family on 9/11/01 (with my father). It was a couple of days later, when there was a knock at my door. It was Rosa's brother. He said that a neighbor of ours told him my father & I had a computer... and he asked if I would check the website CBS news put up, of names. It was one of the only sites where only officals and hospital personel could add names. I told him of course I would and I got to it right away.

    After while searching.. I was elated when on the list, I found the name Rosa Gonzalez, taken to Jamacia Hospital in Queens. This is where one of the biggest regrets of my life takes place.

    Had I ever thought I could call and the hospital would have given information to a non-family member, I would have called from my apartment. But, I was so excited. This, after all could be very good news. I printed the information out and ran up to Rosa's apartment. I was asked to come in. Inside, sat a room full of heartache. Rosa's sisters, brother.. I may remember her mother being there, not certain.. and her daughter, Jennifer. I had the paper in hand. I told them all I did find her name and then went to hand the information to her brother, to call. Obviously, they were all so upset. I asked her family, if they would like me to call.... and, I did.

    I was on hold for quite some time. Transfered, on hold again, and so on. Finally, someone got back on and told me there had been a Rosa Gonzalez there. She had been an EMT, who was treated and released. My heart sank.

    It still makes me cry, these ten years later. I got off the phone and had to tell Rosa's family, it was not her. In hindsight, I wish I had done that so differently. It is a regret I have carried with me during these years...that for a few moments, I gave this family hope that she might be coming home. I am deeply sorry for it and would like to find a family member of Rosa's to apologize to.

    In the days and weeks after... everyone in our building held vigil on the front steps. We waited, hoping that there would still be a chance of Rosa's return. This was never to be.

    I knew four people who died on that horrible day..and although prior to 9/11/01 Rosa and I only said hello in the hallway in passing, I say I knew her. I knew from stories and our neighbors, she was a wonderful mother. I pray for her family's comfort and peace.


    Deirdre K. Healey

  12. @ Deirdre: Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. I just wanted to say that you did nothing wrong. You carried hope and in the darkest of times, that is the best we can do. It is a very human drive to wish that we could have done something different, to wish that things could have turned out differently but at the end of the day, responsibility and guilt must lie at the hands of the perpetrators.

  13. I appreciate that... thank you very much Emm...and thank you for doing something such as this, to keep Rosa's memory alive. - Deirdre

  14. Thank you Deirdre. I'm hoping to write at least one more for this year.


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