Kids of 9/11 victims speak out about how the terror attack changed and transformed their lives

Posted September 14

With Sept. 11, 2016, marking the 15th anniversary since the 9/11 terror attacks, Americans are preparing to commemorate the nearly 3,000 lives lost.

But while time has passed, wounds are still fresh for some, as people continue to grapple with the after-effects a decade and a half after the tragic event shook the nation to its core.

One group that has received increased attention in recent years is the surviving children of the victims killed during the attacks.

Many of these people were young kids when the shocking event unfolded in 2001. They have since grown up and are now speaking out about how losing a parent in such a traumatic way has profoundly affected and transformed their lives.

The Associated Press recapped some of their stories last week, allowing readers to see the horrific attack through the eyes of the "children of 9/11."

What is perhaps most intriguing about their diverse stories is the ways in which the events of 9/11 have permanently weaved into their lives, shaping or entirely changing the trajectories of their personal and professional undertakings.

Take, for instance, a woman named Lindsay Weinberg, who was 12 years old when officials at the New York City medical examiner's office notified her family that they had identified her father's remains at the World Trade Center.

Now 26, Weinberg works as an outreach investigator for that very same examiner's office, helping to track down and notify the families of people who have died; she often works on cases involving violent deaths.

It's a role that she took on after recognizing the importance of forensic science in helping families like her own, according to the AP.

And considering what Weinberg and her family went through, she said she has increased empathy for others who have lost loved ones.

"I'm giving them among the worst news they can receive, and I've received it," she told the outlet.

Then there's Thea Trinidad, a 25-year-old pro-wrestler who has made a career out of the common bond that she shared with her late father, Michael Trinidad, a telecommunications analyst who died during the attack on the Twin Towers.

Trinidad was 10 years old when her father called on Sept. 11, 2001, to say goodbye to her mother; she spent the following years trying to figure out how to honor him, according to the AP.

"I thought: 'What was it we shared the most?'" she recalled. "And it was wrestling."

Trinidad proceeded to build a successful career in wrestling. According to her website, she was once listed as the 31st best single female wrestler in Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine.

And that's only the beginning. The AP told other stories of people whose careers and outlooks were deeply shaped by the deaths of their parents on 9/11, though there was one other unique story that stood out from the rest — a story about a teenager who was born right after the attacks.

Ronald Milam Jr., 14, never met his father, Army Maj. Ronald Milam, who was killed inside the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. His mother, Jacqueline Milam — formerly an Air Force captain — was pregnant with Ronald at the time and escaped the Pentagon unscathed on that fateful morning.

While still a young teenager, Milam has found his own way to honor his father; he wears the number 33 on both his football and basketball jerseys to remember the fact that his dad was just 33 years old when the attack claimed his life.

"I wanted to play in honor of my dad," the teen told the AP. "So I picked that."

There are more than 100 children of 9/11 victims who were born after the attacks and who, tragically, never had the opportunity to meet their deceased parents. You can read all the stories from victims' children here.

It's important to note that the impact of the 9/11 attacks goes far beyond the deaths and injuries that unfolded at the time. According to a 2015 USA Today piece published around the 14th anniversary of the terror attack, deaths and injuries continue to unfold from ailments related to the attacks and cleanup.

The September 11 Victim Compensation Fund was set up to help give compensation to people and families who were killed or suffered harm as a result of the attacks; claims among the affected can be submitted through 2018.

As of 2015, around 21,000 people had filed claims, an increase of about 4,000 from 2014.

Over 9,000 people have already been found to be eligible for medical bills and expenses, with the cost of claims topping $1.44 billion in 2015. Experts have said the numbers are likely to continue mounting, as first responders and others who helped at the site now experience health ailments, according to USA Today.

The 9/11 attacks not only changed the lives of those directly affected, but the events also forced the U.S. government, among other global leaders, to take a more serious look at battling terrorism.

In America, those considerations led to new tactics for combatting terror, ground operations in foreign countries as well as the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as USA Today noted.

With the rise of the Islamic State, among other global challenges, it's clear that terrorism has continued to have an impact both here in the U.S. and abroad.

These are just some of the factors worth considering as the nation comes together this Sunday to remember what unfolded and to honor the 2,996 lives lost.

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