Remembrances on Patriot Day

September 11, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

A flag flies at half-mastThe September 11 terrorist attack on the United States will always evoke a special emotion in me as an American, a New Yorker and a Social Security employee. On this day, we honor the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center, in Pennsylvania and in the Pentagon. We also salute the courageous men and women dedicated to the rescue efforts. This incomprehensible event changed us all.

Fourteen years have passed since we collectively experienced the turmoil and grief of September 11. That day was difficult and emotional and we each experienced it in a very personal way.  For those Social Security employees working in Manhattan at 26 Federal Plaza who heard the first jet, felt its shock wave, saw both towers ablaze and then evacuated under extreme conditions, the memory is indelible. So, too, for the New York Disability Determination Service (DDS) employees who worked in the shadow of the World Trade Center and escaped from the blaze and the rubble of collapsing buildings.

While we were all attempting to regain our equilibrium from that day, Social Security employees around the country made special efforts to help. We showed our strength and compassion and the value of both public service and Social Security. Through our efforts, over 5,000 individuals applied for survivors and disability benefits. The Agency’s response at such a critical moment in our nation’s history was truly uplifting. Many of the survivors of those who perished had their first Social Security payment on October 3, 2001. Our Social Security programs were essential to their well-being, reminding us that Social Security is more than a retirement program.

As I reflect on the events of September 11, I am justly proud of how Social Security employees responded to those events.  Regional office, field office, program service center and teleservice center staff all worked tirelessly to reach out to the families of the victims and overcome the challenges that this tragedy presented to the agency and to us individually. I’m sure that all of us — whether we worked in Lower Manhattan or at the centers on Pier 94, Liberty State Park and DC, whether we took claims from family members by telephone or in person, or worked to ensure that 15,000 individuals whose disability files remained at 22 Cortlandt Street (the location of the DDS) were not disadvantaged or whether we assisted law enforcement efforts — will  always remember those experiences. We persevered and showed our indomitable spirit, and experienced an amazing outpouring of hope and healing as we moved forward.

Looking back at my own experiences with the families of the victims of September 11, I realize that time will never diminish the force of the stories they told. The stories were in their eyes and faces and in the pictures of the victims all around us.  I will never forget these families: a young man in his mid-20s who lost his wife of two years, had a 6-month old child at home and could never stop crying; the father of a policeman and fireman who lost both sons in their efforts to rescue people at the World Trade Center; two little boys (aged 3 and 5) playing with their father’s identification card while their grandfather applied for Social Security benefits; the pregnant mother with three children and no idea of how the family would financially survive. I cannot forget them.

Despite the highly charged environment of the days that followed, all of us at Social Security pulled together to provide support to those who lost family members and loved ones. It will always remind me that we are one family with amazing resiliency and that we will always come together to help those in their time of need.

Today, New York City is a strong, dynamic city. It has lifted itself and is moving forward. We see this by visiting the September 11 Memorial Museum and Freedom Tower. The streets of downtown Manhattan are filled with people. There is a hum in the air and an incredible energy.

As we pause for a moment of silence to remember those we lost on September 11, fourteen years ago, we should not forget those families Social Security helped, nor all the children who are now teenagers and young adults.


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About the Author

Beatrice Disman, Senior Advisor to the Acting Commissioner of Social Security and former Regional Commissioner of the New York Region

Beatrice Disman, Senior Advisor to the Acting Commissioner of Social Security and former Regional Commissioner of the New York Region


  1. Debbie

    Beautifully written. I can’t imagine what the families went through afterward but it’s good to know Social Security stepped up to help them so quickly. I’m sure it was a huge relief for many.

    Thank you for this post.

  2. Robin

    This is such a beautifully written tribute to the loved ones lost, the surviving family members and the SSA family. Thank you.

  3. Brenda

    Thank you very much for all the help and support you gave to everyone that suffered great loss that day. God bless America!

    • JONAS G.

      Yes, indeed..! God Bless America…! And God Damn Islam..!

  4. Hoza

    May GOD forgive and bless all who died under this horrific day, because of their tribulation we as a free country rose up to overcome and honor those who gave all and suffered so, to overcome but never forget our great loss. In GOD we trust!

    • JONAS G.

      Yes, It was actually trusting in God, that allowed the horror to happen..! Yes, indeed..!

  5. FRANK M.

    I was in the library of the college where I teach. We watched the events on a big s cream tv. I WILL NEVER FORGET.

  6. Zee

    God bless America and may God bless all of us as we remember 9 11 and all the loved ones waiting for us on the other side.

    • JONAS G.

      …And, also waiting for us, on the other side, will be the perpetrators of the horrible deed, along with their 72 virgins for each, that awaited them in heaven. Yes, would that day’s events be considered, an act of God..?

      • Topgun10

        The awaiting 72 virgins are Roman Catholic Nuns with baseball bats!

  7. Christine

    Thank you for sharing your memories of that fateful day. Thank you for your service to the families of the those who perished on September 11, 2001.

  8. arnie

    Since September 2001 I have maintained a “9/11 list-serv” which distributes daily e-mails containing newspaper articles and other relevant information re: 9/11 issues of interest to 9/11 families, 9/11 organizations and interested individuals.

    The 9/11 List-serv archives can be accessed at

    Anyone who would like to ‘subscribe’ to this free news service should send an e-mail to with the word “subscribe” in the subject box.

  9. Pamela

    Beautiful tribute to such a tradgedy & proof of Americans strength to support & survive. Thank you

  10. Milford H.

    You provide a VALUABLE service and support. Thank you.

    • Anna S.

      Only through our faith in God can we overcome a trajedy such as this. When we lose a loved one – the hurt can be overwhelming and forgiveness of the evildoers is hard to give. Our healing and the mending of our hearts comes from our faith and hope that time will heal our wounds. I pray that those whose lost loved ones, friends, co-workers can be healed by their faith and trust that God is always and will forever be in control no matter what happens in our lives. God bless those who survived and those who aided in those times and can now look back and reflect that the greatest gift we all have is LOVE even for our enemies and LOVE for all those who helped in putting their lives back together and the rememberance of all those who lost their lives on that day 14 years ago.

      • JONAS G.

        We do not believe that any God had anything to do with Sept 11, 2001 because we can never accept, that the abject grief and suffering that happened that day could be caused by an “ALL GOOD” or “ALL MERCIFUL” supernatural thing, We can never accept that He either caused the horror, or allowed the horror to happen, during His watch. Either way, it does not take a genius to perceive that it is both, criminal to cause it, and very criminal and malicious, to allow it to happen. Think about it, but do not bother to reply to us. But rather, just keep it to yourself, or share it with your family and friends only.

        • johnleger

          jonas,and other misled folks==You need to read up on a book titled the holy bible,and find out for yourself what my Lord has done to His people,numerous times throughout history, to his chosen, that is his chosen people–You may change your mind.

          • JONAS G.

            You obviously never ever read any of it. Or you read it, ignoring the horrible things that it preaches. That is o.k. you are entitled to live under the God delusion. The Bible and the chosen people and all that was invented by desert nomads from the Middle East, during the iron age. It is outdated by reason and common sense, and reserved for the intellectually challenged and otherwise for children of a lesser brain. The Bible did have a couple of positive effects back when folk thought that the sun traveled around the world. But in this geeky XXI century it is rather pathetically boring. But most of all, it is unnecessary, and will soon enough join the rest of mythological beliefs that preceded in history.

          • JONAS G.

            Thank you for your terse, but very kind reply. I would oblige if you would watch my kind rebuttal; But please I kindly submit, that my reply, in the form of a YouTube presentation, is certainly not suitable for the intellectually challenged. In better words, your mind must be wide open to my humble enlightenment efforts. All the Best To You..!


      • Sheridan P.

        Jail Dick Cheney

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