The death of Osama bin Laden brought back painful memories for Lee and Eunice Hanson, who lost their son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter on 9/11.
"The pain is there -- I don't try to push the memories away, said Lee Hanson. I have to recognize that they're gone and I can't bring them back. You have to remember why you loved them. That's why we work so hard on scholarships and memorials, so the kids can be remembered for who they were."
Hanson's son, Peter, had been an avid gardener. The Thursday prior to Sept. 11, Lee visited his son and his family at their home in Massachusetts, where they had recently planted trees. Christine, 2, had loved playing on her swingset. After 9/11, neighbors brought stuffed animals for Christine to the Hanson's home in Groton, Mass.
Lee Hanson wanted to plant a tree in honor of Peter, Sue and Christine. Groton residents raised money for the memorial and collected significantly more than expected. Members of the town volunteered to build a memorial with a flagpole, a rock with an engraved plaque and a tree near a playground. The money raised wasn't needed because town residents volunteered their services. The money was donated to the Western Massachusetts Red Cross.
Lee Hanson later found out the money was donated to a woman from Smith College who was in New York on Sept. 11. She got her dream job in New York in the financial district. On Sept. 11, she had to evacuate her building and was running for "dear life" when she heard the buildings falling, Hanson said.
"She was completely covered in dust. She ran and ran and ran and ran until she fell down. She spent the night in a doorway," said Hanson.
After she returned home to Massachusetts, the woman almost had a nervous breakdown and needed medical attention. She used the money from the Red Cross to heal from the traumatic event. The woman attends the service in Groton each year at the Hansons' memorial.
"I was so struck. Maybe her life was saved with that money. It speaks to the goodness of people and to the care. It touched us very deeply," said Hanson.
Since 9/11, Hanson said he has been surprised to learn how many people have suffered a trauma.
"People feel they can talk about it with me," said Hanson.
For the past few weeks, Hanson and his wife have been gathering photographs, letters and awards to send to New York for a memorial.
"I want people to know who they were," said Hanson.
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