It is fitting on this fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks that we take time to remember and honor each and every person whose life was taken away too soon.
It is my honor and privilege to remember Amenia Rasool's life. Amenia Rasool died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. She was 33 years old.
Amenia was married to Sadiq Rasool and was the mother of four young children, Aneesa, Aseefa, Saeed, and Farhaad, ages 8, 6, 3 and 10 months. She was also an accountant with Marsh & McLennan on the 98th floor in Tower 1 (north tower) of the World Trade Center.
A typical day in Amenia's life started at 5 a.m. She would get ready and do laundry before kissing her four children goodbye, leaving her home in Queens to go to work as an accountant with Marsh & McLennan.
Jo Garcia, a friend and co-worker, says of Amenia, "We worked together for three years and I saw how dedicated she was to her work. She came in early to work each day, and tried her best to work on her tasks diligently." Another co-worker, Donna John-Igarta, remembers Amenia as "very very reliable and resourceful."
Garcia says that Amenia often talked about her family, including her parents, brothers and sisters whom she loved very much. Amenia's sisters and brothers were Bibi, Katiza, Nazir, Jamir, Hamid, and Shahabadeen. Amenia was also survived by her grandparents, Noor and Farida Hoosein.
Another co-worker, Kathy, worked with Amenia on the 98th floor. Kathy says that Amenia was a "a wonderful person, a true pleasure to know." According to Kathy, Amenia loved to shop. She and Kathy would go shopping at least three days out of the week, before work and during lunch time. When Kathy and Amenia took the train together, sometimes they would run into Amenia's husband Sadiq, and Amenia always loved it when that happened. Kathy says Amenia would always look around for Sadiq every time they got to the platform.
When Amenia returned home in the evening, she and Sadiq would work together to bathe and feed the children, then dine together as a couple while the little ones watched TV. Then Amenia and Sadiq helped with any schoolwork and put all the children to bed.
At the end of the long day, after a husband-wife cleanup that included vacuuming and wiping down all the rugs in the household, Amenia relaxed by catching up on tapes of her favorite soap operas.
Amenia was born on March 4, 1968 in Guyana, in South America. She lived at Port Mourant and attended Bush Lot High School. As a young woman, Amenia came to America from rural Guyana with her parents, Mohamed and Nazmoon Ifhak. Although Guyana is a small country, emigration to the United States and Canada has been common among its people, with perhaps 10,000 Guyanese moving to the United States per year since Guyana became independent from the United Kingdom in 1966.
Amenia's marriage to Sadiq was arranged by their parents, and blended Islamic tradition with life in America. (Islam is the faith of approximately 10% of Guyana's population today.) A friend says that Sadiq's mother (who is now helping with the children) was as proud of Amenia as if she was her own.
At approximately 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11, Boston to Los Angeles with 92 people onboard, crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99, where Amenia worked. Amenia's employer, Marsh & McLennan, lost 295 employees in the September 11 attack.
After the September 11 attacks, on September 30, 2001, the President of the Republic of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, as well as Guyana's Ambassador to the United States, Odeen Ishmael, delivered heartfelt messages of remembrance and condolence to all families who lost loved ones in the attacks, including Guyanese nationals living in America, many of whom enjoyed dual citizenship. Approximately 25 of the victims on September 11 were of Guyanese background.
Here are some of the words of the message from Guyana's president Bharrat Jagdeo at the Inter-Faith Memorial Service in New York, New York on September 30, 2001:
As we meet here today to mourn the loss of our people and celebrate their lives, fate and faith remind us of the norms of civilized society with its attendant fragilities. To provide comfort to grieving family members, and to garner some understanding of the tragedy, we must pause and reflect at this memorial gathering. For us Guyanese, the memorial has a special meaning in the context of dual citizenship which many of our foreign nationals enjoy. Many of the deceased shared this duality of status proudly, recognised as they were, as both Guyanese and American citizens. As Guyanese, and as Americans, they were hardworking, productive citizens. They had strong family ties and values. They worked hard for a living to support relatives in the US and back in the land of their birth, Guyana. They worshipped through different faiths and prayed daily for guidance, understanding that fate might have its own design, agenda or prescription of how things will turn out. This humbling ever-presence of the unknown serves, usually, to anchor us more deeply to and to cherish the joys and gifts of daily living. And we can say accurately that our departed nationals lived such lives. More than that, they were good citizens.
And yet we also meet to celebrate. We celebrate the gifts that the lives of the slain produced. We celebrate, too, that collective spirit of courage that has produced, in the aftermath of the catastrophe, so many heroes and precious, endearing memories of the best in human values that have been so apparent.
I implore you to dig deep into your several faiths – Hinduism, Christianity, Islam – to find that consolation and hope, that your faith offers. In ordinary times you may have faith; in extraordinary times you must have faith. May our common grief and sense of loss, remind us of our common humanity and draw us closer to one another.
Guyana's ambassador to the United States quoted the classic poem, "Death of a Comrade" written some 50 years earlier by Guyana's national poet, Martin Carter:
if it must be
you speak no more with me
nor smile no more with me
nor march no more with me
then let me take
a patience and a calm
for even now the greener leaf explodes
sun brightens stone
and all the river burns.
Now from the mourning vanguard moving on
dear Comrade I salute you and I say
Death will not find us thinking that we die.
Amenia was remembered along with 23 other missing persons with Guyanese backgrounds at a special memorial service at the Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church in Brooklyn on Sunday, September 30, 2001.
Amenia's husband Sadiq remembers Amenia as a loving wife and a devoted mother who made sacrifices to put the happiness of her family first. On the first anniversary of Amenia's death, he was quoted as saying, "No words can describe how hard this is for myself and the kids. To lose a loved one . . . so young and healthy so unexpectedly . . . it is hard. Amenia was a wonderful mother and a terrific wife and worker. I miss her very much."
Shortly before the one-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the family held a service for Amenia Rasool after receiving some remains identified as hers. "At least now there's a headstone with her name and a place where we can go and remember her," Sadiq said.
Amenia will always be loved and remembered fondly by those who had the privilege to know her best. She will never be forgotten.
"We miss you very much, we love you and you will never be forgotten. Amenia your memories, your love and deep affection will continue to inspire us in all our endeavours." (Sadiq Rasool, October 6, 2002)
This tribute to Amenia Rasool owes a deep debt of gratitude to the following sources of information about Amenia's life:
Marsh & McLennan Companies Memorial Site and the New York Times Co.
September 11, 2001 Victims: A website dedicated to the victims of the September 11, 2001 tragedy
*Although the New York Times tribute of her life refers to the 95th floor, a coworker states that she sat near Amenia on the 98th floor.
If you have any memories of Amenia Rasool you'd like to share, or any corrections or additions to this tribute, please leave a comment below or send an e-mail to the author at this website.
This memorial is linked at Michelle Malkin. Links to tributes to all 2,996 victims of the September 11, 2001 attack can be found here. If you've written a tribute you'd like to share, please feel free to trackback here if you wish.
Many moving tributes to victims of the 9/11 attacks have been written. I'll link to some of them here, including:
- A fine tribute to Peter Mardikian at Sister Toldjah.
- A tribute to Matthew David Garvey, FDNY, USMC by the Anchoress
- A tribute to Steven Hagis by Heather
- A tribute to Theresa "Ginger" Risco by Mark Base (also an enjoyable read)
There are many more great tributes out there. To each and every one of you who has taken time to honor someone, thank you.