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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Firefighter's widow reflects
Mary Williamson views the artwork at a shrine near Ground Zero
Mary Williamson views the artwork at a shrine near Ground Zero
Mary Williamson lost her husband John in the New York attacks. He died in the north tower this day last year. He was one of the 343 New York firefighters killed when the Twin Towers collapsed. Here Mrs Williamson answers the questions from News Online users.

Apichat Saknan in Thailand writes:

I feel sorry for all that happened because of 11 September but I am totally fed up with the usual American hype simply because it affects them. Those innocent people did not deserve to die and the world does not deserve America to keep ramming it down our throats and to use it for an excuse they see fit. Mary, does that concern you, that this may be the view of others around the world?

Mary Williamson: It is a bit of a surprise, it seems like such a radical comment. The fact that it is in the news as much as it is today, because it is still the news item of the day and it is not the Americans that are ramming it down your throat, it is an issue that is global, not just within our borders, and America has to be supported. It has been a policing agency for nations all across the world, so no, I don't think it has been rammed down your throat, it is still a very, very important issue today.

From my personal experience, the world has been incredibly generous to us. I am afraid I couldn't answer the other question because I have never stood on the other side of the fence. I am not sure how we are seen globally.

Obviously there are people around the world who hate us Americans and I am not sure why. We have a wonderful way of life and we have always been a nation that was willing to share it with anyone who chose to come and live here, so to realise now, as I do today, that there are people out there that do hate us is a very hard concept to get around.

Mary Williamson
Mary Williamson:

Maggie Anderson, from the United States writes:

I believe the USA should purchase the World Trade Centre site and erect a memorial to the victims who were in the buildings and those who came to help. The lack of support for this approach is shocking. To return the WTC site to commercial use is a tremendous dishonour.

Mary Williamson: Personally I agree with Maggie. I would love to see it totally as a memorial. However, I think I take a more realistic approach. What I would like to see is a marriage of the two ideas to create new commercial buildings and also to have a living memorial to all those who gave their lives on 11 September.

I would like to see some dynamic approach to it, possibly videos that run 24/7. When people walked through the corridors they would be overwhelmed by the videos. I would also like it to be a quiet place, where people can contemplate what happened and simply take it in. I would want something dynamic, that people are not going to become accustomed to, where they will find out something new every time they pass through those corridors.

Nobody who witnessed the towers falling will ever forget. Having the tapes running over and over again, I don't think will really affect these people. It is a horrible sight, but it did happen. No-one who witnessed that will ever forget it. But we need to have these films, we need to keep running them, and teach our children about them, and learn ways to prevent it in the future.

Roma Jenburg emails from California:

I would like to ask Mrs Williamson is she thinks there was too much emphasis on raising money for the firefighters' families and not enough for other people like the immigrant workers in the buildings, who were security men and janitors and waiters, etc. Does she feel enough has been done both for her and for these families?

Mary Williamson: As far as raising the money for the firefighters is concerned, that was not an effort spearheaded by the families, it simply happened, we had no control over that. As for the issues of the security men, janitors, wait service and so on, there have been funds set up for these people too. Everybody participates in the Twin Towers Fund, so these funds, unlike what you might learn from the media, aren't all for the firefighters and rescue workers. Everybody is included and the children and families of the wait service, and the other organisations in the World Trade Centre that were affected by this, are able to participate in the benefit programme.

New policies are in place, different administrators than there were before September 11, and these issues have been addressed. It is hard to say that it is the perfect policy, I don't know, but from my experience there are not people out there who are in need and who have not been able to access these funds. So I think they are doing the best job they can at this point to see that everyone's needs are met.

Diane Lacey in the UK asks:

One year on from September 11, how difficult is this anniversary going to be for you and others in your situation?

Mary Williamson: It is something we have to get through. Personally, I feel for me it is going to be a quiet time. I don't intend to participate in the programme in New York. I don't feel I am up to it at this point. I know it happened a year ago, but I feel it was just yesterday. As far as the other families are concerned, I have really only been in contact with three or four families, and of that group, none of them are going into New York. So if that is a microcosm of the entire group, I think the events of 11 September, 2002, will be witnessed more by people who were not personally impacted by the situation.

We have changed radically since 11 September, and we need to keep reminding ourselves of this, not too differently from an advertiser who is bombarding you with a commercial. And the message is very simple: it happened, and we are changed. We need to do things differently than we did in the past. We need to move forward. This is the reason we are doing it.

New York despatches





See also:

06 Sep 02 | Americas
11 Sep 02 | Americas
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