Claire Ward, one of our School Support Assistants here at Tynecastle, travelled to New York in September to participate in a memorial walk. Here is her story…
On Sunday 4th September 2016, I had the greatest pleasure and pride in participating in the Father Mychal Judge 9/11 Walk of Remembrance in New York City.
Father Mychal Judge was a Franciscan Priest in New York City and the Chaplain for the Fire Department of New York. He died on 11th September 2001 in the South Tower when the North Tower fell at the World Trade Centres carrying out his duties as Chaplain. Father Judge was asked to join the Command Post that was being set up further from the towers but he chose to stay with his men.
The Walk not only remembers Father Judge but all the people that lost their lives that day and continue to do so as a number of people die from 9/11 related diseases each year.
The 1000 people that walked that day followed the footsteps that Father Judge took as he left his Church, St Francis of Assisi, to the World Trade Centres. The walk concluded at St Peter’s Church as this is where Father Judge’s body was laid at the altar.
The Walk is organised by a small amount of dedicated volunteers with one being Detective Steven McDonald, New York Police Department. Detective McDonald was shot 5 times 30 years ago while carrying out his duties in Central Park, New York. The shooting left him quadriplegic and a ventilator breathes for him. I was very humbled to meet Detective McDonald and using his mouth, he signed a book for me which he had contributed to. Detective McDonald knew Father Judge as he helped him with his recovery and helped him forgive the 15 year old boy that shot him.
On the day of the walk, I walked with heroes, men who will never admit it. I stood beside firefighters who were trapped for hours after the towers came down, stood beside a firefighter who knew 133 out of the 343 firefighters that fell that day, saw visible signs of men with post-traumatic stress disorder and saw men that did not want to say they were at 9/11 because of the memories and because it is a question that is always asked.
I realise that at least half of the students in school were not born when 9/11 took place and would they know what 9/11 refers to if asked. No matter how many days and years pass, 9/11 should never be forgotten and I personally, will do my best to ensure that this does not happen.
Claire was also interviewed during the walk and you can see her in the video below.