September 11, 2006


Hopeless is the only word that comes to mind when I look back five years ago. Like many of you, probably, I didn't know anyone personally that was lost that day. Due to my line of work, I viewed the initial attacks as a direct assault on our way of life, namely capitalism. Afterall, the best of the business world worked in those towers and I didn't need to know them personally to deeply feel the loss.

At least, that's what I thought until I learned about Valerie. Valerie was the oldest of four kids and the daughter of a military dad who was often away. She was an emergency placement foster mom and by the time she was 24, she was already married with two children. She thrived as a foster mom, having 8 teenage foster sons when her three year old daughter came along.

She and her first husband eventually divorced over her desire to work outside the home. Even so, Valerie kept up the fight to adopt her third child and eventually won as a single legal parent.

It was this sweet third child that said this about her mom, "She continued bringing light into battered and neglected children's lives my whole life. Saving many of us from a future that could have been bleak. She believed that exposure to knowledge and ability would change what someone could be, not skin color or money."

Valerie put all of her children in Montessori School at early ages, an early indicator of how important children's independence and education was to her. I'm sure you can imagine how tight money must have been for a single mom in the seventies with three children and multiple foster children at any given time. Valerie's children learned to sew their own clothes, bake bread and make home repairs, whatever it took. She would call them after school and get them to start dinner. As her daughter said, "Yes, we were latch key kids, but we were self-sufficient."

Valerie also believed that women were equal to or more capable than men. It bothered her that her secretaries thought that was all that they could do. So she lost a lot of secretaries. Many of them took Valerie's advice, left to go back to school, demanded better jobs and proved their intelligence. This was kind of an unknown side of Valerie, one her family wouldn't know until she was gone, when thankful women came out of the woodwork to share what an impact Valerie had on their lives.

Valerie's dream was to own a farm. By the time 9/11 rolled around, she had sold her brownstone in Hoboken and bought property in Upstate New York. While she stayed with her sister during the week for work, her weekends were devoted to family life on the farm. The morning of the tragedy, she had just hung up with her husband after discussing the chores around the farm. She was in great spirits and her family loves that her last thoughts were likely of her dream being realized.

Since the first plane hit right at her floor, she hopefully never knew what happened or suffered.

I'm so thankful to the 2996 project for bringing Valerie Joan Hanna into my life. I'm so thankful to Valerie's daughter Denene for sharing all of this with me. And finally, I'm thankful to live in the only country on the planet that produces people like Valerie and all those who make it possible for our freedom to endure.

Valerie Joan Hannavh50.jpg
Sept 6, 1944 - Sept 11, 2001

Posted by shoe at September 11, 2006 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Thank you so much for sharing her story. She will be remembered forever....

I honored Michael Haub, FDNY.

Posted by: Jaci at September 11, 2006 06:18 AM

Thank you for honoring this beautiful soul.

Posted by: Dana at September 11, 2006 06:30 AM

... great tribute, Shoe...

Posted by: Eric at September 11, 2006 08:26 AM

Very nice, Shoe. Valerie is an inspiration to us all. Thank you for introducing her to us.

Posted by: Dash at September 11, 2006 09:24 AM

Beautiful words for an amazing woman.

Thank you!

God bless.

Posted by: Christina at September 11, 2006 11:32 AM

Great post! Here comes a crippleanch.

Posted by: Denny at September 11, 2006 02:36 PM

Good post!

Posted by: Kelly at September 11, 2006 03:18 PM

An amazing tribute to an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing Valerie's story with everyone and giving her a voice today.

I know my own experience with the 2996 Project was profound and altering. I am forever grateful to have had the chance to honour a hero.

Posted by: Sue at September 11, 2006 03:25 PM

Thoughtful and eloquent. Thank you, Shoe, darlin'.

Posted by: Elisson at September 11, 2006 03:48 PM

That was wonderful, Shoe. Great job. And it was great to meet you!

Posted by: Lisa W. at September 11, 2006 04:19 PM

Great tribute. Thank you for taking the time to introduce us to another wonderful person. The numbers were overwhelming and hard to comprehend. But this project brings it forth again, but with so many more layers for us to meet the people and understand the loss so much more personally. Elisson had a great comment on bou's site - about the universe of each person. And your tribute really shows us the universe of Valerie.

Posted by: jck at September 11, 2006 05:24 PM

thank you for introducing Valerie. What an inspiration!

Posted by: Sticks at September 11, 2006 07:03 PM

Just beautiful.

Posted by: Richmond at September 12, 2006 04:27 AM

That is what our country is about. What an amazingly giving person. Thanks for the great post.

Posted by: Don at September 12, 2006 11:34 AM