Eight years ago, the world witnessed one of the most horrific events in our country's history at 8:46 A.M. on September 11, 2001. Thousands died either on their way out of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, running from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., helping to rescue those in need or in the case of Wanda Green, was traveling on one of the four high jacked planes that crashed that day.
Green was a 29-year veteran flight attendant on United Airlines Flight 93. She was a proud mother of two children who was just a few years from retirement and preparing to enter a new stage in her life as a real estate agent. But her 49-years were cut short on that day as the flight she worked on crashed into an open field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Green is memorialized as one of the 40 heroes of Flight 93 who took control of the plane from the terrorists and prevented even further death and destruction.
It's a hollow appreciation for Green's family, especially her twin sister. Sandra Jamerson and Green's children attended the dedication of a large, bronze plaque (which lists the name of all 40 victims) at the Capitol earlier this week. She spoke to ESSENCE.com about what happened that day, keeping her sister's memory alive and what it's like to lose your twin.
ESSENCE.COM: What do you remember about September 11, 2001?
SANDRA JAMERSON: I was out of town away on a business trip, about to start a meeting when one guy came in and shouted out, ‘Have you heard?' We were sitting there saying, heard what? That's when he told us about the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. He said one of the planes was an American Airlines plane and the other was United Airlines. My first impression was I hope that wasn't my sister's plane. I tried to call her but I realized she would have already been working. I found a television and discovered a plane went into the Pentagon. Again, I'm thinking everything is fine. I had another meeting to go to and on my way I saw on the television that there was a plane that went down in Pennsylvania. Once I got situated, I contacted my sister's best friend. That's when she told me that Wanda was one of the planes. At that point, I just lost it.
ESSENCE.COM: You flew back home to California and then to New Jersey to see your niece and nephew. What were your thoughts getting on an airplane at that time?
JAMERSON: I did everything I could to get home. I looked into renting a car, getting on a train or bus. Everything was totally locked down. But finally I got a flight and I had a lot of fear getting on a plane. I just said to myself I need to get home quickly. I put it in the Lord's hands. I couldn't control what was going to happen. I just did what I had to do.
ESSENCE.COM: When did you have a memorial service for your sister?
JAMERSON: Immediately after I got home, United Airlines made arrangements for us to go out to New Jersey for a service. Her kids were completely distraught. We were invited to the White House shortly after the crash. We had a big memorial service for her in California the following year. That kind of helped me get through it. You eventually get to a place where you learn to live with the pain, but I don't think you ever get over it.
ESSENCE.COM: What will you do today?
JAMERSON: Everybody wants to memorialize the event and that tends to bring up a lot of feelings. There's a park in Linden, New Jersey dedicated in my sister's memory and we'll attend the church that she attended. They planted a tree in her honor so we'll go by there for sure. In terms of anything bigger, we're not sure. My niece and nephew are still dealing with it but are trying to move on with their lives.
ESSENCE.COM: They say twins have this incredible bond. What was it like growing up with Wanda?
JAMERSON: We were very close. We did a lot of things together. It was really hard but I received a letter from a woman in Texas who lost her twin in 9/11 also. To this day, we call each other every year in September and December. She understands the feelings of losing a twin sister. It's different than losing a regular sibling. I can't really explain it but it's like a part of you is gone.
ESSENCE.COM: What would you like your sister to be remembered for?
JAMERSON: She was a good-hearted woman. She was good to her family and friends, very loving and caring. She loved people. She came in contact with a lot of people that she impacted just being her.
Leave your 9/11 memories and messages of condolences below for the families of victims who lost their life on this day.