The 9/11 Widow Who Visited the Troops in Iraq–Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
The account of a visit to Iraq by Christy Ferer whose husband was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center towers in New York on September 11, 2001.
Christy Ferer is not only a 9/11 widow, but also New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s liaison to the families of the victims of Sept. 11.
She traveled to Iraq on Fathers Day, 2003.
Several articles have been published about her experience.
This particular version is said to be true and was published with her permission by The Hilltop Times of Hilltop Air Force base.
Christy Ferer is a 9/11 widow who recently was a member of a group of
celebrities (including Robert DeNiro and Kid Rock, among others) that took
an Armed Forces Entertainment Office and USO-sponsored trip to Iraq to show
support for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines still over there.
Following is an e-note she sent her escorts about the experience. In her
cover note, she said she intends to submit it to the NY Times for
When I told friends about my pilgrimage to Iraq to thank the US troops,
reaction was under whelming at best. Some were blunt. “Why are YOU going
there?” They could not understand why it was important for me, a 9/11, widow
to express my support for the men and women stationed today in the Gulf.
But the reason seemed clear to me. 200,000 troops have been sent halfway
around the world to stabilize the kind of culture that breeds terrorists
like those who I believe began World War III on September 11, 2001. Reaction
was so politely negative that I began to doubt my role on the first USO
Tribeca Institute tour into newly occupied Iraq where, on average, a
soldier a day is killed.
Besides, with Robert De Niro, Kid Rock, Rebecca and Johns Stamos, Wayne
Newton, Gary Senise Lee Ann Wolmac who needed me?
Did they really want to hear about my husband, Neil Levin, who went to work
as director of New York Port Authority on Sept.11th and never came home? How
would they relate to the two other widows traveling with me? Ginny Bauer, a
New Jersey homemaker and the mother of three who lost her husband, David and
former marine Jon Vigiano who lost his only sons, Jon, a firefighter and
Joe, a policeman.
As we were choppered over deserts that looked like bleached bread crumbs
wondered if I’d feel like a street hawker, passing out Port Authority pins
and baseball caps as I said “thank you” to the troops. Would a hug from me
mean anything at all in the presence of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and a
Victoria’s Secret model?
We arrived at the first “meet and greet.” It made me weep. Why? Armed with
M16s and saddlebags of water in 120 degree heat the soldiers swarmed over
the stars for photo and autographs.
When it was announced that a trio of 9/11 family members was also in the
tent it was as if a psychic cork on emotional dam was popped.
Soldiers from every corner of New York, Long Island and Queens rushed toward
us to express their condolences. Some wanted to touch us, as if they needed
a physical connection to our sorrow and for some living proof for why they
were there. One mother of two from Montana told me she signed up because of
9/11. Dozens of others told us the same thing. One young soldier showed me
his metal bracelet engraved with the name of a victim he never knew and that
awful date none of us will ever forget.
In fact at every encounter with the troops a surge of reservists —
firefighters and cops including many who had worked the rubble of Ground
Zero — came to exchange a hometown hug. Their glassy eyes still do not
allow anyone to penetrate too far inside to the place where their trauma is
lodged; the trauma of a devastation far greater than anyone who hadn’t been
there could even imagine. It’s there in me, too. I had forced my way
downtown on that awful morning, convinced that I could find Neil beneath the
What I was not prepared for was to have soldiers show us the World Trade
Center memorabilia they’d carried with them into the streets of Baghdad.
Others had clearly been holding in stories of personal 9/11 tragedies which
had made them enlist.
USO handlers moved us from one corner to the next so everyone could meet us.
One fire brigade plucked the 9/11 group from the crowd, transporting us to
their fire house to call on those who had to stand guard during the Baghdad
concert. It was all about touching us and feeling the reason they were in
this hell. Back at Saddam Hussein airport Kid Rock turned a “meet and
greet” into an impromptu concert in a steamy airport hangar before 5000
Capt. Vargas from the Bronx tapped me on the back. He enlisted in the Army
up after some of his wife’s best friends were lost at the World Trade
Center. When he glimpsed the piece of recovered metal from the Towers that I
had been showing to a group of soldiers he grasped for it as if it were the
Holy Grail. Then he handed it to Kid Rock who passed the precious metal
through the 5000 troops in the audience. They lunged at the opportunity to
touch the steel that symbolized what so many of them felt was the purpose of
their mission-which puts them at risk every day in the 116 degree heat and
not knowing if a sniper was going to strike at anytime.
Looking into that sea of khaki gave me chills even in that blistering heat.
To me, those troops were there to avenge the murder of my husband and three
thousand others. When I got to the microphone I told them we had not
made this journey for condolences but to thank them and to tell them that
the families of 9/11 think of them every day. They lifts our hearts. The
crowd interrupted me with chants of ” USA, USA, USA.” Many wept.
What happened next left no doubt that the troops drew inspiration from our
tragedies. When I was first asked to speak to thousands of troops in Quatar,
after Iraq, I wondered if it would feel like a “grief for sale” spectacle.
But this time I was quaking because I was to present the recovered WTC
recovered steel to General Tommy Franks. I quivered as I handed him the icy
gray block of steel. His great craggy eyes welled up with tears. The sea of
khaki fell silent. Then the proud four-star general was unable to hold back
the tears which streamed down his face on center stage before 4,000 troops.
As this mighty man turned from the spotlight to regain his composure I
comforted him with a hug.
Now, when do I return?