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Eastonites' Grandchild Becomes Symbol of Innocence

EASTON, Conn. — Christine Hanson, the 2-year-old granddaughter of Lee and Eunice Hanson of Easton, was the youngest victim of the Sept. 11 attacks. She was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175 as it crashed into the World Trade Center.

Lee and Eunice Hanson flew to Georgia last month for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Intermodal Training Facility, which was dedicated to Christine at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center near Brunswick. Law enforcement training is done there for more than 90 governmental agencies – and the Intermodal Training Facility is a building to be used to train anti-terrorism techniques.

Lee was told trainees heard a speech upon arriving at the facility: They are told they have to protect the lives of Americans of all ages and are then told about a little girl named Christine. The trainees "change like magic" after hearing about Lee's granddaughter, Lee was told, and become suddenly more attentive. She is a constant reminder of why they are there.

"In many ways, she's a representation of the innocence that America lost that day. Not only in the lives who weren't out to kill anybody – it was in the slaughter of innocence. There was an innocence we all shared that day. In general, there's nobody in government or any of the us among the population who ever thought people would hijack an airplane and make a guided missile out of it," said Lee. "No one was prepared for that."

America also may not have been prepared for the overwhelming support after Sept. 11.

"We're amazed sometimes at what happens," said Lee. A woman in Iowa got all of the quilters from an organization together to make a quilt to deliver to the relatives and survivors of Sept. 11. The Woodworkers of America make an American flag case for every family. A quilt was recently completed with pictures of every life lost on Sept. 11 and donated to the family members – who then donated it to the museum.

"These things help you realize that people are good. People are basically good," said Lee.

Eunice and Lee Hanson joined two support groups – one in Massachusetts, where Peter, Sue and Christine lived – and one in Connecticut. In Connecticut, most of the members are relatives of those lost in the towers, and in Massachusetts most of the members are relatives of those lost on the planes. "One week, I thought I was going crazy," said Lee, who then called a man in Massachusetts who was a member of his support group. Before he said anything, the man told Lee that he also thought he was going crazy. "It really helps. Support groups get you through a lot."

Lee and Eunice attended a memorial ceremony at Sherwood Island State Park on Thursday and plan to attend Easton's memorial on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the firehouse. On Saturday, MSNBC will show the movie, "On Native Soil," in which Lee and Eunice are featured. The Hansons will not attend the ceremony in New York City. The said one reason was because Mayor Michael Bloomberg decreed there be no prayer.

How did Sept. 11 affect you and your family? Did you donate goods, blood or time afterward? Send your story to shenry@thedailyeaston.com.

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