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Mourning Mom Salutes 911 Victims

Debbie Chrisman kneels beside a monument dedicated to the memory of her son Danny, who died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001

Danny Crisman, at the age of 25, not only walked into a new job the day after Labor Day three years ago, but he was clearly at the threshold of a new career with a corporate leader. Marsh & McLennan Companies was the world's leading insurer and risk advisor, and Crisman, who had been paying the rent working as a "temp" in Manhattan businesses, was five days into the job as a computer technician there.

The sixth day was Sept. 11, 2001, and Crisman had reported to work early at the offices leased by Marsh & McLennan between floors 93 and 100 in the North Tower in the World Trade Center. Danny's mom, Debbie, assumes he was on his own floor, the 97th, at or near his work area, when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 struck that morning.

"I think a lot about where he was, what he was doing and if he suffered at all," says Debbie Crisman of her only child. "They tell me it had to be almost instantaneous because he was so close, but I can't help thinking about it."

The plane, with 92 aboard, including the hijackers, hit somewhere around the 94th floor, maybe a little above, which would have put Danny and most of his 292 fellow employees who died that day so close to the point of impact that they may not have known what hit them. Meanwhile, his mother was at home that morning, waking up with a cup of coffee and watching Fox News when they cut to the footage that still remains etched in the memories of most Americans. Then, like many of us, she saw the second plane—United Airlines Flight 175—fly into the South Tower and explode into flames. She would still be praying and waiting for word late that night. She would never have any physical evidence that he was there. There were no remains and those who were with him were gone, too. Still, as the hours and days go by, you hold onto the hope. Maybe he took the day off or showed up late and was now wandering about stunned by the immensity of the carnage he may have seen.

"I talked to him the night before. It was pretty late so it was only a few hours before it happened," she says now in quiet resignation. Then her eyes go out of focus, recalling a memory that probably comes back to her every day. "I was going to call him that morning, I don't know why. I remember deciding not to because it might make him late to work

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