The Unsung Heroes: 12 Powerful Stories From September 11th

Today marks the tragedy at the World Trade Center on September 11th – the day every American will always remember.

On September 11th, 2001, the United States was brought down on its knees in mourning.

Amidst great struggle emerges the greatest heroes. Citizens put aside all differences and came together to lift up the injured, lost, grieving, and heartbroken.

Here, we will commemorate them with these twelve powerful stories about that fateful day.

1. The first recorded casualty of the attacks was a Roman Catholic priest and NYFD chaplain, Father Mychal Judge.

Pictured below, he had gone to the burning towers and blessed firefighters, hearing their last confessions—losing his life in the process.

mychal judge

2. Betty Ann Ong was a flight attendant on the first airplane to be hijacked.

Betty Ann Ong

Surrounded by pure horror, she hid and stayed on the telephone for 25 minutes relaying information that led to the closing of the airspace by the FAA.

3. Actor Steve Buscemi, former fireman, showed up at his old firehouse in New York the day after the attacks.

steve buscemi

Buscemi volunteered his time for twelve hours every day for a week, digging through rubble to help look for missing firefighters.

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4. Roselle, pictured below, guided her blind owner out of the tower during the attacks from the 78th floor.


Roselle kept calm, and instead of reacting to the animal instinct to flee, she guided Michael Hingson, pictured above, to safety.

“I would not be alive today if it weren’t for Roselle,” says Hingson.

Roselle led a happy life for ten more years until her passing in June 2011. Hingson has since become a motivational speaker and has written a book about his beloved Roselle.

5. Roselle wasn’t the only dog desperate to help…


6. Porkchop, pictured below, was especially diligent.


7. The amazing people of Gander, Canada, gave Americans everything they possibly could.


8. Former President George Bush was told about the September 11th attacks when he was reading to a class of schoolchildren in Florida.

Ten years later, one of the schoolchildren, Chantal Guerrero, remarked that though the former president looked obviously alarmed and upset (pictured below), he kept calm and continued reading until the book was finished before he rushed to the scene.

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“I think the President was trying to keep us from finding out so we wouldn’t all freak out,” explained Guerrero.

9. Many victims, like Brian Sweeney, called their loved ones to give their final goodbyes.

Brian Sweeney

10. Nine months after the attack, the Masai people who live in a small village in Kenya gifted America with 14 cows.

The act of giving gifts is unusual for the Masai in itself, but the fact that they gave cattle—one of the most vital elements of their religion, economy, and diets—was particularly powerful. Cattle symbolize life for the Masai, who were so moved by the suffering of the American people after September 11th that they symbolically gave life to those who were mourning.


The Americans requested that they were kept at the village, where they were branded with two bars, which represent the Twin Towers. The herd has since tripled in size.

11. Four high school boys walked the 650-mile distance between their hometown in Ohio to Ground Zero in attempts to raise money for 9/11 victims.

It took them 44 days, and they had to stop at hospitals for medical assistance, but that didn’t stop them.

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The boys, Tad Millinger, Chad Coulter, Dustin Dean, and Brandon Reinhard, raised over $17,000.

12. This heartbreaking picture captures the final moments of Chief Gerard A. Barbara, who shortly after ran into the collapsing building, never to return.

9/11 Terrorist Attack on World Trade Center

Never forget.


sammy nickalls

Sammy Nickalls is the former content manager of and is a freelance writer for various sites, including HelloGiggles, YourTango, Quickbooks, and TWLOHA. Follow her on Twitter @sammynickalls.

Photos, respectively, by orping, San Francisco Parks Alliance, Thom Sheridan, San Jac College, stefan219, Peter Claussen, Mary Blanco, and David Handschuh.

Featured image by Saucy Salad

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