Thursday, 11 September 2008

9/11 - 7 years on

When I click "Save", it will be exactly seven years to the minute that the first aircraft hit the World Trade Center in New York. The events of what is now referred to as 9/11 are only too well known.

My thoughts are with all victims, whether identified afterwards, or not. In New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

My thoughts are with the passengers and crew on the four flights destroyed.
My thoughts are with the victims killed in the World Trade Center. My thoughts are with those emergency workers who lost their lives trying to save others'.

My thoughts today are with the families of those who perpetrated these atrocities, for they lost too. Even before the events of September 2001, they lost their loved ones to a delusion of hate that is not of the religion they claimed to be faithful to. Hatred leads to destruction - as shown seven years ago. Forgiveness is a pillar of Christian faith, as it is one of the Islamic faith. Whether those that lost a loved one in 9/11 can find it in themselves to forgive is beyond my scope.

But first and foremost, my thoughts are with Norberto Hernandez, whose tribute I filed on this blog a year ago. Project 2996 urged us to add new material when reposting a tribute. I found this impossible. The searches for Norberto on Google are contaminated with references to the Falling Man, who was in fact another victim, Jonathan Briley. This confusion has led to much anger and anguish, something the families of both men could do well without.

Norberto, rest in peace.

This entry, as stated above is dedicated to the memory of

Norberto was a pastry chef from Elmhurst, working in the restaurant Windows on the World on the 106th and 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. After the attacks, he was reported missing for a week until parts of a torso and an arm were found in a collapsed stairwell. DNA testing and finger printing reveiled that these were the remains of Norberto. It also invalidated claims that the image of the Falling Man was that of Norberto; this was another victim of 9/11 who will be the subject of a different tribute.

At the time of the attacks on the WTC, Norberto was aged 42 and had been married for 25 years. He was the fourth of ten children by his parents’ marriage, and also had six half-siblings through his father. His parents separated when he was young. Norberto himself had three daughters, three grandchildren and 37 nephews. He was a man of Puerto Rican origins, and had hoped to spend his final days there. Instead, after 9/11, a funeral service was held and his remains cremated in Puerto Rico.


His sister Luz described Norberto. “He was quiet, kind”, she said. “He was a handsome man. Everybody loved him, you know. Everybody.” Norberto’s nickname was Bible, as he was very dependable. Together Forever was his motto.


Norberto started work in Windows on the World at the age of 17, washing dishes. He was interested in cooking, so a manager paid for his tuition at cooking school. Norberto became pastry chef and worked up to 10 hours a day. His sister Luz said that he made cakes, desserts, cookies and bread. His cakes were fabulous.


Outside work, Norberto loved sports, and was a fan of a Puerto Rican boxer, Felix Trinidad Jr. Four days before the attacks, he rang his mother and asked her to play “I would cry but I have no more tears” four times.


In the immediate aftermath of the plane striking the North Tower, Norberto called his sister Luz. “He said: ‘Yeah, don’t worry, I’m OK”.They were disconnected, and when Luz tried to call back she could not get through. Other accounts from Windows on the World tell that smoke and dust filled the restaurant after the strike, and that people lay on the floor to escape the worst of it. Air was beginning to run out at the time of thelast contact.



These are the facts that I have managed to pull together from the Internet.


From the little that I have learned of Norberto, he came through as a gentle giant. Although 6’2” (1.84m) tall, he was always listening, and talked later. His family suffered a double loss, as Claribel Hernandez (his sister-in-law), a secretary working elsewhere in the North Tower, was also killed in the attacks. Norberto was close in the family and responsible, which earned him the nickname Bible. He loved his work, and by the look of one of the images, loved to impart that knowledge to others around him. 


September 11th, 2001, dawned as a brilliantly sunny morning in New York. Two planes were flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center, leading to their collapse within 2 hours. The destruction of so many lives was brought about by mindless hatred and madness, fuelled by religious zealotry which was not based on any writing in any scriptures in any religion.


Norberto may have heard of that on news reports, but it was probably quite far from him. He was a man that lived for his family, always there for them. A diligent worker, putting in up to 10 hours a day, loving his creations from the oven. Travelling to the WTC on the Subway every morning, his thoughts were probably far from what was to happen not that much later on that fateful Tuesday.


Two thousand nine hundred and ninety-six are known to have died that day, or in its immediate aftermath. Norberto’s ashes were scattered in his homeland of Puerto Rico. His memory lives on in his family, and in the memory of those that read this. He is deeply missed by those close to him.


To Norberto Hernandez


Rest In Peace



I have attempted to contact the University of Columbia to use the material in this link, but have not received a reply. As it is central to thetribute, I have used it, and acknowledge the writer, Sarah Clemence.

This is a poem by Barbara Phillips, from which I have used some factual references to Norberto. It refers to him being the Falling Man though.

I have been granted permission by UIM to reproduce the commemorative quilt for Norberto.

The poster, pictured above, proclaiming Norberto as missing after the attacks, hung on a walkway of Manhattan for more than a week

2,996 persons.

J-land remembers 9/11

Comments from readers who do not have an AOL / AIM screenname can be left in the Guest Book, which you can find in the left sidebar of the main journal. I shall transcribe them into comments on this entry, with attribution.


  1. A wonderful entry Guido. Norberto came through your writing as such a nice man.  All of them were nice people.  I have shed a tear as I do every year on this day when I read the tributes and remember.  I can recall that day as if it were yesterday and I am sure many others feel the same way.  It is burned into our souls.  I shall check out the links you have posted.  Once again, beautiful entry.  I think we have both done our "adopted" victims proud.  God rest them.

  2. This is a beautiful entry Guido..I am shedding tears today for Norberto and the other victims.  Norberto sounds like he was a wonderful soul.  Rest in Peace.

  3. A great tribute Guido. Helen

  4. Nice tribute.
    God bless them all.

  5. Prayers for all. Janie

  6. Thank you Guido for your tribute. It's a sad memory for all of us.  Linda in WA

  7. What a beautiful tribute, Guido.

    His daughter spoke today at the Reading of the Names. She talked about her father who worked at the Window of the Worlds as a Pastry chef.


  8. Thank you Guido...

  9. Thank you, Guido.  There just are no words.  Chris

  10. You did Alberto proud, Guido. Thank you for such a moving and beautiful tribute......I will never forget the way I felt that day, never.

    Pooh Hugs,

  11. great tribute guido.  we must never forget  those who died         thanks for this       take care mort

  12. Such a moving tribute ~ Norberto sounded like a gentle giant ~ yesterday is a day that will be etched in our memories for ever ~ Ally x

  13. lovely entry, Guido!!

  14. A fitting tribute and we are still dealing with the fallout 7 years later  I read today where the war has been stepped up in Afganistan, shots fired into Pakistan without permission, still on the search for bin-Ladin and his terrorists  The military spread too thin with Iraq and so on.   Gerry

  15. excellent job Guido!the colors are great!
    I loved doing that with you!
    Dale has some new links when you want them!

  16. Lovely tribute Guido.

    My heart goes out to all who lost loved ones and who are affected by this terrible atrocity. May God bless you all