5 Inspiring 9/11 Moms (VIDEOS)

9/11 momEach one of us was affected by 9/11 differently. I, for one, had just moved to Los Angeles from New Jersey a week earlier. In addition to being overwrought with sadness, I remember feeling completely helpless and frustrated that I couldn't be at home with my family, who were all a mere 45 minute drive away Manhattan -- AKA a 45 minute drive away from where the world seemed to be crumbling. 

Other people, like friends of mine who resided in New York City, reacted differently -- understandably so. They were scared, mad, and on alert 24 hours a day. One of my girlfriends actually picked up and moved out of New York a week after it happened -- while in the midst of a lease -- never to return again.

Then there are the moms of 9/11. The wonderful, amazing mothers who lost people near and dear to them that fateful day, and decided to do something about it -- for the better. Here are five unbelievably inspiring 9/11 moms.


Maureen Santora. When Maureen's firefighter son, Christopher, died at 23 trying to rescue as many people as he could from the World Trade Center, she realized she needed to carry on his legacy. She said, "When he died, we decided he could no longer speak, he could no longer voice his opinions, so we decided when we spoke, we would speak for him." So Santora became an advocate for 9/11 families, occasionally pleading their cause directly to the White House.

In 2009, Maureen and two other families asked President Obama to reverse his decision to suspend the trials of five Guantanamo Bay detainees who admitted their roles in the attack. And then in May, days after the death of Osama bin Laden, she met with Obama to give a heartfelt thank-you on behalf of families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. She also wrote a book about her son, My Son Christopher.

Sandra Grazioso. Sandra actually lost two sons the day of the attack: Tim Grazioso, 42, a vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the north tower, and John, 41, who worked for the same firm, one floor above.

Instead throwing in the towel and giving up on life, Sandra has taken to collecting American flags in their honor, as well as singing in her church choir and speaking to local students about 9/11. She said, "Students always ask me if I'm bitter; I say no," Grazioso said. "They ask: 'Why not?' They say: 'How do you get through it?'"

Her answer is always the same: "Faith, friends, and family."

Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi. Phyllis and Aicha have a unique bond. See, when Phyllis' son, Greg, was killed on September 11th, she was heartbroken. But things started to change for her the following year when she met Aicha, whose son Zacarias Moussaoui had been charged with conspiracy in connection with the atrocity -- and was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole. Aicha decided to travel from France to the U.S. for a private meeting with families who had lost loved ones in the 9/11 attack. When the two women met, well, a lifelong bond was formed.

Jeannette Schardt. Eight months after her husband, John, was killed in the attacks, Jeannette gave birth to their son, Johnny. And the first time Johnny ever met his dad was in a graveyard. But Jeannette is on a mission to make sure her kids know what a hero their father was. See her inspiring story.

How brave are these moms?

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