Any adult alive on September 11, 2001 probably remembers where they were when the Twin Towers fell. New York City may seem very far away from North Dakota. But North Dakotans were directly affected by the event. A mother lost her daughter; a police officer from North Dakota reported for duty on his day off and spent the next week working at Ground Zero; and many North Dakotans went to war in the aftermath. It may seem overwhelming when one tries to contemplate over 3,000 people who died that day, but each person has a story. Each victim left behind family and friends who continue to feel pain and anguish over their loss.
But sometimes good things come out of terrible events. Jenette Nelson watched the attacks from her living room in North Dakota. She knew her daughter Ann was on the 104thfloor of the north tower. It was painful to watch the coverage and to learn that Ann did not survive. When her belongings arrived home, they included her laptop computer.
Jenette said it was five years before she could bring herself to open the computer. When she did, she found Ann’s bucket list. It included activities such as scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef and volunteering for charity. One item caught Jenette’s attention. Ann wanted to build a home in North Dakota.
An organization called “New York Says Thank You” heard of the bucket list. The group consists of New York City firefighters, ground zero workers, and the families of victims. They stepped up to the challenge. In 2012, more than 500 volunteers traveled to North Dakota. They worked to build an 11,000 square foot ski lodge. The building was designed to accommodate disabled children. It will also welcome injured veterans.
New York Says Thank You travels the country after disasters, like tornadoes, hurricanes, and fires. The organization helps the communities rebuild. It seeks to do for the rest of the country what people did for New York after 9/11.
The North Dakota project was the first that honored a 9/11 victim. The building is called Annie’s House. Jenette says the project is a comfort, and an item on Ann’s bucket list to cross off.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
North Dakota Office of the Governor. "http://governor.nd.gov/media-center/news/governor-and-first-lady-host-september-11-commemoration-state-capitol" http://governor.nd.gov/media-center/news/governor-and-first-lady-host-september-11-commemoration-state-capitol Accessed 6/28/14.
The N.D. Capitol and Beyond. "http://northdakota.areavoices.com/tag/september-11/" http://northdakota.areavoices.com/tag/september-11/ Accessed 6/28/14.
CBS Evening News. 11 September, 2011. "http://www.cbsnews.com/news/volunteers-cross-item-off-9-11-victims-bucket-list/" http://www.cbsnews.com/news/volunteers-cross-item-off-9-11-victims-bucket-list/ Accessed 6/28/14.