Remembering Janet Alonso
Eleven years ago today – September 11, 2001 – our world was forever changed with the terrorist attacks. We all know that nearly 3,000 people died that day but because of the magnitude, most of us don’t put a face to the number. One of the faces of 9-11 was a 41-year old woman named Janet Alonso – a wife and a mother of two young children who perished on the 97th floor of the north tower at the World Trade Center.
Janet Bohlander was born on August 14, 1960 and was raised in Tappan, New York. She graduated from Tappan Zee High School in 1978 and with a business degree from Dominican College in 1998. In 1989, she married Robert Alonso. For ten years they tried to have children and Janet nearly “surrendered her dream of becoming a mother” when she gave birth to her first child, Victoria in 1999. Her second child, Robbie was born with Downs Syndrome in 2000. She was so appreciative of her children that she wrote a letter to her husband thanking him as she considered the children the greatest gift he ever gave her.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Jan – as her family and friends called her – was at her desk in the office of Marsh and McLennan where she worked three days a week as an e-mail analyst. At 8:46 am the first plane hit the north tower between the 94th and 97th floor on the opposite side of the building from where Jan worked. She survived the impact and used her cell phone to call her husband at the pizzeria he owned. She told him of the building filling with smoke and the difficulty in breathing and that she loved him. The call ended at 9:07 am and the building collapsed at 10.29 am. Jan’s remains were found on April 10, 2002 – the day her son turned 2 years old.
Janet’s family – her husband and two toddlers – were her passion. She lived in Stony Brook, New York and was buried in nearby Haverstraw. After 9-11, Robert Alonso sold his pizzeria to stay home and take care of his children and said “the toughest job in the world is the job of a mommy” and “I just want to be the best Dad for my kids.”
Jan’s kids are now 13 and 12 and she never got to see the milestones that most mother’s witness: the first day of school, swimming without floaties, jumping off the diving board, birthday parties, or experience the most normal of all childhood events: reading her children a bedtime story, the after school pick-up, watching a sporting event, or walking hand-in-hand to the park.
Janet Alonso deserves to be remembered. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing her – only reading about her. On September 11, 2001, I was a 40-year old mother of a 5-year old little girl and remember the desperation I felt when I watched the towers fall (on a television in my office) and raced home to wrap my arms around my husband and daughter, grateful for the moment. So, when I come across a story about someone who died on 9-11 or in the armed forces, I make a point to read their story because their lives were cut too short and they missed too many firsts – and they deserve to be remembered.
For a complete list (and the obituaries) of the 9-11 victims on the memorial, go to: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/memorial/lists/by-name/