NEW YORK—Vatchpol Srinuan has been attending the Ground Zero memorial service almost every year for the past 17 years to honor his younger sister, Saranya or “Suzie.”
Born and raised in New York, his sister was 23-years-old when she perished in the North Tower. She was working on the 103rd floor at Cantor Fitzgerald, and had been at the company for only a few months before the attack.
Despite the sombre mood in the air, Srinuan lit up when describing his sister, who was also his best friend.
“A lot of people have said when she walks into a room, you know she’s in the room because she just has an aura … had a presence with her. Everybody knows, ‘Suzie’s here now’,” Srinuan said.
“Two people named their daughters after my sister … just to give you an idea of how much she meant to other people.”
One of those was their cousin Cathy Vichaidith. This year, Srinuan attended the service with his cousin and her two young children, Saranya and Thomas.
Vichaidith said she had Suzie to thank for a very important reason.
“I met my husband because of her. She and my brother-and-law are the reason why we are as happy as we are now,” she said.
“She gave me an opportunity to see happiness after.”
Srinuan said despite the tragedy, it has brought everyone around him closer together.
“All [of Suzie’s] friends became my little sisters. [Vichaidith] has become my little sister. We’ve been closer than ever now.”
Brother Wishes He Could Hug Sister Again
Hiram Gonzalez was carrying a sign that his mother made, as the pair left the closed memorial at the World Trade Center held for family member of 9/11 victims.
The sign had a photo of Gonzalez’s younger sister, Nereida DeJesus, and her 6-year-old daughter, Lauren, before Nereida was killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It read: “Forever in our hearts.”
“I never really talked to her before all this happened,” Gonzalez said. “And I wish I could just hug her, tell her how much I miss her.”
His sister was a claims adjuster for Aon insurance company the 98 floor of the World Trade Center North Tower.
DeJesus was 31 years old. According to the Legacy.com obituary site for the victims of 9/11, she had only begun working for the company a few months before the tragedy.
Gonzalez said he comes every year.
“If I miss one year, there’s just something …” he said. “I go back to the site and maybe feel her spirits and talk through my mind with her, see her visually with my mind.”
Gonzalez said he had a bigger sign as well but as “the ceremony got more compacted,” he took out his smaller sign instead.
DeJesus’s daughter, Lauren, has grown up and gone to college. She is now 24.