“I know what it’s like to have my father killed on national television.”
When two hijacked planes struck the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, the lives of thousands of American children were changed instantly.
As office workers and front line responders were amongst those killed when the attack was carried out in New York City, approximately 3,000 children under 18 were left to deal with the trauma and grief of losing a parent in such horrific circumstances.
Fourteen years on, the children of 9/11 continue to be defined by the tragedy and the attacks that changed their families and their country forever. And when a series of attacks were carried out in Paris two weeks ago, France’s pain was felt across the globe.
French journalist Eléonore Hamelin moved to New York in 2011 and wrote for Vox that following the Paris attacks, she and a friend were approached by a man who wanted to express his condolences for what had happened.
“He said he loved Paris, and then he hugged us,” Hamelin wrote. “That night, the spire on top of the Freedom Tower — constructed after the 9/11 terror attack — was lit up in the colors of the French flag.”
It was these signs of solidarity — symbols of support that could be seen in landmarks across the globe — that inspired Hamelin to ask four children of 9/11 victims to send a message of support to the people of Paris.
Watch the video here. Post continues below.
The young adults featured in Hamelin’s video are now in their early to mid twenties, but were only six, eight, nine and 12 when they lost a parent on September 11th.
“My mum pulled me over and she said there was an accident today, there was an attack on where dad works and we don’t think he’s ever gonna come home,” said Juliette Candela who was six-years-old when her father died in the Twin Towers.
“He was killed. He didn’t just die in a car accident, he didn’t have cancer. He was killed. It was a predetermined, premeditated terrorist attack. And I guess you just don’t understand that when you’re a kid. And I grew up and I understood and everything just froze for me,” added Francesca Picerno.
“It’s no longer something that is your own experience, you’re sharing it now with hundreds of thousands of people and it sort of takes away from the fact that you can grieve and move on and just live your life,” Picerno went on to say.
Joseph Palombo was 12-years-old when his father — a firefighter — was killed inside the south tower. Now 26, Palombo urged Parisians not to live their lives with hate or anger.
“People look at you, and they shouldn’t see tragedy, they should see hope, because you mean so much to society and you’re so valuable and for you to be happy is just what everybody wants to see. It will give everybody hope and that is the best attack I think you can have on a terrorist group or anything.”