From: Personal Interviews, 2020, Previously published in The Herald
On September 11, 2001, New York City woke up to a gorgeous, sunny day. It was something Lynda Pasqueretta, newly hired high school front office administrator, remembers vividly.
She also recalls a school with no intercom, no key cards and no cell phones. “Life was simpler and less complicated than it is now,” she shares. “It was after this one day that the world began to completely change.”
At 8:46:40 a.m., as teachers and students continued on with their typical Tuesday routines, Flight 11 would crash into the World Trade Center less than 25 miles away.
The day was only beginning.
A little radio was placed in the front office and became Eastern Christian’s connection to the world. Based on the reports coming in, Pasqueretta and co-worker Cathy Lagerveld, under the direction of Principal Jan Lucas, typed up a brief message and hand delivered it to each classroom so teachers could read it.
She recalls, “When the bells rang at the end of that block, students flooded into the front office, asking to use our [landline] telephones…There were two lines at our desks that went out into the hallway, with students wanting to check in with their families,” she shares. “There were two girls who kept returning every single break, as their father was a NYC firefighter, and their mother was unable to reach him.”
It was the Van Hine family. Emily was a senior; Meghan was a freshman. Their mother, Ann, was a busy mom and co-owner of a dance studio. Their father, Bruce, was a member of the Special Operations Command, Squad 41 out of the Bronx.
Ann Van Hine picked the girls up from the high school at 2 p.m. Still no word. The family continued to wait.
Then, according to Ann, “A little before midnight, I heard a car pull up.” The two men inside—Bruce’s lieutenant and personal friend, plus a fellow firefighter—delivered the news.
Bruce was unaccounted for.
“We had a personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy. It was our loss but the whole nation/world was changed. There is nothing that can prepare you for that. There is the loss of not only the loved one, but a sense of privacy. It is a two-edge sword because the care and concern of others was amazing, but it was our loss. So, in a weird way you become a public figure, but you didn’t sign up to be a public figure,” says Ann.
During these years, the Eastern Christian community would play a role in shepherding two families who lost fathers—the Van Hine family and another family that would join the community at a later date—their stories joining those of 2,975 other families.
Ann would like readers to know that “We have not forgotten the love and support the EC community showed us and that we try to pay that forward.”
As for Ann, she has spoken several times at Eastern Christian High School in the years that followed and has also given students personal tours at the 9/11 Tribute Center (now museum). God has opened up a much wider sphere of influence than Eastern Christian School, however, allowing her to share “the story of His presence and provision on over 550 walking tours as well as to school groups.” She has additionally traveled to Japan four times to share her story with survivors of the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster.
Shares Ann, “God has never left us or forsaken us. He is who the Bible says He is. He can be trusted even when it doesn’t make sense. He never wastes anything. He uses every experience we have to enable us to help others. He is good.”
Ann has written a book titled, “Pieces Falling: Navigating 9/11 with Faith, Family and the FDNY”.