Columbus woman thankful for family members’ 9-11 fate

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Whitehall Police Officer sings "Proud To Be An American" as the American flag at the Franklin County Courthouse is raised.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)
Whitehall Police Officer sings "Proud To Be An American" as the American flag at the Franklin County Courthouse is raised.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)

September 11 remembrance services continue this afternoon across the country. To honor those lost that tragic day, Franklin County Commissioners held a flag raising ceremony this morning at the courthouse. WOSU was there and spoke with one woman who could have easily lost two family members that day.

Martha Ebron stands outside the Franklin County Courthouse. The sky is clear and bright blue – similar to the sky New York City saw seven years ago. Ebron sports a navy blue T-shirt that has an American flag covering its front. Her eyes are wet with tears. A county worker, she’s headed back inside the courthouse after a 19-minute flag raising ceremony that included a rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “Proud To Be An American” and the “Star Spangled Banner.”

For many people September 11 is a time to reflect on the lives lost and the many heroic actions on that tragic day.

For Ebron, it’s also a time to be thankful for the lives of two of her relatives who were spared from becoming victims of the attacks.

“We knew she was in that building. That’s where she worked at,” Ebron said. Ebron’s talking about her sister-in-law, Vivienne Nixon, who worked in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Ebron recalls her sister-in-law telling her she wanted some breakfast that morning so she took the elevator down to about the 90th floor.

“So she got off the elevator, and she goes as soon as she stepped off the elevator the building shook. The first building. And it shook. And she knew something was wrong,” she said.

Ebron said her sister-in-law was unaware the North Tower had been struck, but her instincts took over and she decided to exit the building via the stairs. Ebron said by the time her sister-in-law got out of the building and looked back, the South Tower was hit.

“And so she ran from New York City all the way to Brooklyn without stopping, in her heels,” Ebron recalls. Not only was Ebron’s sister-in-law in New York on that fateful day, but her niece, Teresa Taylor, worked at the Pentagon. Luckily, Taylor worked on the opposite side of the building where Flight 77 crashed. Taylor escaped harm. And so did Nixon other than blisters and swollen feet.

But Ebron said waiting to hear from them was tough.

“And so that was a day for us. I had a chance to go to Ground Zero last year to actually see it and it’s a very sad situation,” she said.

Craig McDowell of Columbus was headed toward the Franklin County Courthouse. He stopped to offer some thoughts about September 11th.

“I’m just really thankful that there hasn’t been another attack, major attack, on the United States since September 11th, and I’m just really thankful for that,” McDowell said.

Cheryl Miller crossed Mound Street on her way the courthouse. Miller said she’ll never forget the surreal feeling she experienced on 9-11.

“But afterwards, after it all happened. How we all pulled together and was so patriotic you didn’t take things for granted like we normally do,” Miller said.

Unity was a theme of all three Franklin County Commissioners speeches that the flag raising ceremony where county, state and American flags were raised and then lowered to half staff.

Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks said she was glad to hear that presidential candidates U.S. Senators Barack Obama and John McCain put aside their campaigns to come together and remember those lost in the attacks.

“America first is certainly where we all must be at all times,” Brooks said.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. as a result of the terrorist attacks.