NORTH SMITHFIELD — The passage of 10 years hasn't soothed the pain for Aram P. Jarret Jr. and his family but remembering his daughter Amy N. Jarret's caring ways does help them cope to a degree.
Amy was a flight attendant on United Flight 175 out of Boston and died at the age of 28 when terrorists seized the aircraft and flew it into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
While remembering his daughter this week, Jarret, a local attorney with offices on Eddie Dowling Highway, said it is the many memories he holds of the good times with his daughter that he tries to think about today.
That is especially true as the events of Sept. 11 are being recounted in observance of the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Those attacks claimed the lives of 2,977 innocent people who were either aboard the four jetliners hijacked and crashed by the attackers, who were at work in the World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon, or who were the first responders attempting to help others that day.
Amy's plane held nine crew members and 59 passengers including the five terrorists waiting to take control of the aircraft as it headed west.
"It's been very difficult the past couple of weeks," Aram Jarret said of the impact of the nationwide attention being given to the anniversary of the attacks.
Amy's family planned to join the families of other Sept. 11 victims in New York City over the weekend to participate in the dedication of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum built on a portion of the World Trade Center site near the footprints of the two towers and a park area. The ceremonies today will include the reading of the names of the victims and the tolling of bells in their memory.
Jarret will attend the New York City ceremony with Amy's mother, Marilyn Trudeau of Glocester, as well as three of Amy's four siblings.
There are also planned remembrances in Boston, Providence and Woonsocket. North Smithfield will hold its memorial service on Wednesday when the family members have returned.
Because Amy died in the World Trade Center, Jarret said the family considers the site to be the place holding her physical remains.
"We never received Amy's remains so for all intents and purposes that is where she is buried," her father said.
The new memorial will remember an act of inhumanity but that may not bring any sense of closure for Sept. 11 to their families.
"Do you get closure in a situation like that?" Jarret asked. "Not really. There never really is closure. We never had a funeral for Amy so the only thing we have are our memories.”
A memorial service was held by Amy's family on Sept. 23, 2001, at Fort Adams in Newport and drew many of her friends from the area as well as her co-workers from United Airlines and American Airlines. It ended on the North Lawn of the State Park overlooking Narragansett Bay with a release of white doves of peace by her family.
In spirit, Jarret said his family believes Amy is still with them here at home in so many ways.
They talk about her to the grandchildren and retell all those funny and touching stories about her days growing up in Woonsocket and North Smithfield and when she later went off to college at Vilanova University and started her career.
Fortunately for her family, Amy saved everything that could serve as mementos of the things she loved to do with her family and her many friends.
The boxes of her cherished items held as treasures by her family include everything from tickets to the plays she went to see, souvenirs from vacations and trips, photographs of favorite spots, samples of school work dating back to kindergarten, and reminders of her dance and theater performances.
Her father holds a ticket from the play "Miss Saigon" that he and Amy saw on a trip to London, among his own favorite remembrances, and the fact they have many others is a treasure today.
"We still have a part of Amy with us and we are able to impart those memories to our grandchildren and close family members and friends," he said. "Because of that Amy will always be with us."
The family also holds memories of many humorous moments with Amy; things that can still draw a laugh, like when they think of the time she was on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and walked smack into a telephone pole. She could be a bit clumsy at times, rushing down the stairs at home in a hurry to get to work and tripping over her own feet, her father recalled.
And there was that time when, while volunteering behind the concession stand at the Stadium Theatre, she stepped on a trap door in the floor and somehow fell unhurt into the space below.
It still amazes Jarret how Amy could also be that poised person on an airline flight, capable of coasting down the aisle during turbulence and offering her passengers something to drink or eat from the cart she would push along with her.
Amy's abilities in school and community service earned her a $1,000 scholarship from the Woonsocket Kiwanis Club when she graduated from Mount St. Charles Academy in 1990.
She was a member of the National Honor Society, a first runner-up of Rhode Island Young Woman of the Year for 1990, second runner-up for Miss Teen Rhode Island, a recipient of the Rhode Island Book Award and was also listed in Who's Who Among High School Students in America.
Amy was a class secretary and a member of the Student Council and was active in organizations such as Students Against Driving Drunk and The Woonsocket Youth Council. She worked as a volunteer for the Rhode Island Association for Retarded Citizens, Mount St. Francis Nursing Home, the Woonsocket Beautification Committee and the Holocaust Commemoration Committee. She was a Eucharistic minister at her church, and was said to have exhibited a "spirit of volunteerism" that made her deserving of the Kiwanis scholarship.
Amy was also known to live her life to its fullest. She kept in touch with her local friends and would stand out as that polished and stylish looking young professional when going out with them to a local restaurant to meet up with fellow Mounties and other Woonsocketers.
She was also looking forward to a future with her longtime boyfriend, Kyle Rusconi of Philadelphia, and had talked about becoming engaged.
Amy also kept up with her siblings, Jay, Alicia, Matthew and Marc, and her mom, Marilyn, and the rest of her family.
She partnered in her family's passion for Notre Dame football, where Aram Jarret graduated in 1965, and the New England Patriots, too, her father said.
"Amy loved sports," Jarret said while noting his daughter was also a fan of basketball at her alma mater, Villanova University.
"She had a lot of spirit, she was very giving, and she took care of people," he said. When Christmas would roll around, Jarret said he’d find it difficult to start picking out gifts for the family and would seek Amy’s help.
"I would say I don't know what to get everybody and in two minutes she could come up with a list. She knew what everyone wanted and needed," he said. "She was great at something like that."
It is such thoughts that help when Jarret thinks about how Amy died.
"Really, all I have is the memories of Amy. I thank God that we had a great relationship and had the opportunity to do many things together," Jarret said.
"I am really grateful that I was able to be a part of her life for 28 years," he added.
The more difficult part of remembering Amy is the reality of how she died at the hands of terrorists.
It is always in Jarret’s mind that Amy did not die of an illness or an accident as some young people do, but that she was a victim of murder. That is the reason he feels some solace in the U.S. military's success in finding Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 attack, and killing him.
"It does help to some extent,” Jarret said. “Amy was murdered and he was the catalyst for this whole thing, this act of terrorism. In some respects, I was happy about that but it didn't bring back Amy."
There are other things to think of regarding that day.
What people believed before Sept. 11, 2001 and what they believe today are very different as a result of the attack. Jarret believes the aftermath of Sept. 11 has brought greater attention to security and safety in travel. There is also the ongoing efforts of the U.S. military to fight the threat of terrorism that still exists, he said. "Thank God for them and all they do," Jarret said.
The 10th anniversary also comes with thoughts of all the victims of Sept. 11 and the work not yet done to remember them. Jarret said he believes people need to hear about Amy and get to know her better so that they can understand what happened that day. A new generation must know what was truly lost by so many families, according to Jarret.
In Rhode Island, there were more victims than just Amy. This weekend will also be marked by Bryant University's Annual Shawn M. Nassaney Memorial Race that benefits the Pawtucket native and track standout's memorial foundation. Shawn and his girlfriend, Lynn C. Goodchild of Attleboro, were also aboard Flight 175 when it departed Boston. They were heading to a vacation in Hawaii before returning to graduate school.
They are remembered by an extended group of family and friends, just as Amy Jarret is remembered.
And all of the families have those special memories they will always hold tightly to help today. For Jarret, it’s Amy’s way of showing happiness with a smile.
"She is a bright, shining star," he said.