New book tracks women at Ground Zero
By Monica M. Brown
Staff Writer
Friday, August 2, 2002

Since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been many books written about the events that took place that horrible day. Most have lauded the efforts of the folks involved and focused mainly on the male heroes. For those looking for a different view of the events, a new book is out that focuses not on the men, but on the women at Ground Zero.

Many books written about tragedies tend to candy coat the events. They glamorize what took place in order to sell more copies.

Women at Ground Zero doesn't do that. And that's why it works.

Authors Susan Hagen and Mary Carouba spent many hours interviewing women who were on the front lines of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Instead of taking the words of these women and fitting them to the book, they took the stories from the women and put them down, word for word, just as they were told to them. The stories are chilling and sad and at the same time astounding and uplifting.

Many of the women featured in the book still suffer from after effects of the attack. Some still suffer from medical problems, while others escaped physical injury but continue to suffer emotionally from the attacks. Some are bitter about the lack of coverage those lost from their organizations have received, while others would prefer just to keep their heads down and keep working. Most continue their jobs, saving lives, to this day.

What could have been a book filled with mushy, tear-filled remembrances, turns out to be filled with unblinking eyewitness accounts of the tragedy and its effects on these women.

Descriptions of the horrors these women faced are graphic and, at times, disturbing. Many of the women narrowly missed death or serious injury from bodies and debris falling from the buildings. Many were faced with the horrific task of caring for the dead and retrieving unidentifiable remains. Their accounts have the ability to place the reader right in the middle of their experiences like no others.

There are no pictures included in the book of the devastation caused by the attacks. There are just simple black and white photos of the women profiled. They aren't photos touched up to make the women look like supermodels. The women appear in the photos just as they are.

Following the accounts of those who survived, there is a tribute to the three women who died in the line of duty on Sept. 11.

Authors Hagen and Carouba interviewed family members, friends and co-workers to find out a little more about these women. Each had their own lives, their own stories. But they had one thing in common. Their love of their jobs and willingness to put their lives on the line to help others.

Images of the women help to emphasize what has been lost with their deaths.

Private EMS worker Yamel Merino is pictured with her 8-year-old son, Kevin. She died in an explosion caused by the attacks.

Port Authority Captain Kathy Mazza is pictured in her uniform. She died surrounded by fellow Port Authority officers while helping a woman in a wheelchair out of World Trade Center Tower One.

NYPD officer Moira Smith is pictured helping an injured man to safety following the attacks. It is the last picture of Smith that her family will ever have. The man she helped is alive today because of her work and bravery.

This book is best read a little at a time, because the accounts of the events can be hard to take. Those looking for a true-life account of what these women faced on the ground on Sept. 11 will be satisfied, because no punches are pulled.

It's one of the best books I've read on the attacks and their aftermath, allowing readers a glimpse into the events from a different point of view.

The U.S. list price for "Women at Ground Zero" is $22.95. It may seem expensive, but this book, simply as a Sept. 11 collectible, is well worth the price. The stories inside make it a treasure.

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