Download It’s been a decade since the September 11 attacks on America that killed nearly three thousand people.
Pakistani born Talat Hamdani lost her 22-year-old son Salman when the second tower fell.
Salman was a paramedic, he’d rushed to the site to help out, but caught in the rubble and the chaos, he died.
Salman’s remains were not found until some weeks later, and instead of being praised, he became a suspect in the terrorist attacks.
Police interrogated his family and searched his house several times.
On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the killings Alice Brennan in New York meets with his family.
As the sun sets and the frogs begin to croak, Talat Hamdani, alone in her stately Long Island home, takes a seat at her easel and begins to paint.
“It’s trial and error this is from a picture you see the stairs going up you know... its resonates with my thought of going up you know climbing higher. Instead of being negative, I’m a very positive optimistic person you know.”
Talat’s paintings line the walls of her house, along with ornate Pakistani art and hundreds of family photos.
“I think I’m going to use this one for his profile, I like this one. Now I can look at his pictures without crying.”
Mohammad Salman Hamdani was 22 years old in 2001. Talat describes him as a gentle soul.
“He was a very happy child and a very compassionate young man. He used to bring home sick birds. He would tend to them and he loved animals. He was not a fighter at all.”
Salman was also very patriotic and loved Star Wars.
“He grew up here, he came here when he was 13 months old, I remember once he was a star wars fan. so he grew up with the saga. All his movies are still here his books are still here the brother have his stuff. His license plate read Young Jedi – And one day I asked him what is the star wars and he responded with Oh Mamma you don’t know the star wars?! Then you’re not an American – and that’s how he was...”
Salman was an NYPD cadet, and had been trying to get into medical school.
Talat says she’s not at all surprised that on the morning of September 11, Salman rushed to Ground Zero, to help out, instead of showing up to work, but that meant there was a lot of confusion about his where he actually was that day.
“So I called home and my husband was there and he picked up and he was crying and he said mah salman is there “and I said Salman cannot be there he doesn’t work there, he works in mid town...york and 65th and while we were talking he said no mah salmam is there and then he said oh my god the second tower is coming down and I found myself crying also, remember wiping my tears thinking I don’t know anyone over there why am I crying? And the second tower, the north tower is where they found his remains."
Q. So you knew?
"Our souls knew. I just refused to accept it – because if I accept it I would just break down. Then we searched for him in Manhattan for like ten days and we walked around with a poster to see if anyone had seen him – but who would remember in that chaos? And then we stopped going into Manhattan and someone came into the store saying that there was a flyer circulating – the NYPD was asking for him.”
Talat and her family quickly became subjects of a terrorist investigation and victims of a scurrilous media campaign.
“Detectives came to our home asking questions about what he looked like, what was he wearing where do you think he would be where he was working looking at the house and everything. Asking for his password to his email account and I said you must be kidding you know and it seemed sometimes also that either they had a portfolio, but initially I though Salman was sitting there and they were verifying with him...you know...it’s horrible.”
The painful but strangely comforting truth was delivered to the Hamdanis, late one night almost a year later.
“They notified us on March 20th 2002 – remains IDed through DNA –so when we went down there to the medical examiners office I asked them when did you find him? The third week of October – what took you so long? DNA testing....it does not take that long...I said we are going to have our own DNA testing done and he pulled the file towards himself and said go get yourself a lawyer mrs hamdani. From 2001 to 2006 -- hose five years were very painful and very intense, we felt like we were caught in a vicious cycle and we couldn’t get out...Two years later my husband died also. After my husband died – in 2008 we all became functional again so to say.”
But it was only this year; a decade after the attacks that Talat felt her son’s name was cleared of suspicion.
“Look at the glory– he has gone down in the history of this nation as an American hero he’s America’s true jedi.”
Talat Hamdani has spent a decade fighting for the rights of Muslim Americans. She’s attended military hearings at Guantanamo and she’s come out in support of the Ground Zero Islamic Centre.
But mostly Talat Hamdani, a school teacher, fights for the memory of her son and for the future of America.
“So this tenth anniversary is a decade that puts to an end the grief and the pain of 911 and from here we will move forward on a path of unity reconciliation and forgiveness.”
1) chaos: kekacauan
2) resonates: bergema
3) gentle : lembut
4) compassionate: penuh kasih
5) confusion: kebingungan
6) wiping: menyeka
7) midtown: tengah kota
8) scurrilous: keji
9) comforting: melegakan, menghiburkan
10) grief: kesedihan
1) Who was Salaman and what was his profession?
2) What was his personality like and what happened to him on September 11, 2002?
3) What did his parents do to find him and what did the detectives tell them about the DNA test?
4) when was Salman's name cleared and how did his mother react to it?
5) What did she say about the 10th anniversary of 911?