Amy Nicole Jarret

Amy Nicole Jarret, 28, of North Smithfield, was a flight attendant aboard United Airlines Flight 175 on Sept. 11, 2001.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Aram Jarret could tell his daughter was dreaming about a bright, happy future.

 

As Amy Nicole Jarret shuttled between her family home in Rhode Island and her boyfriend's in Pennsylvania, she was steadily collecting furniture that she stored in her father's basement. Family members expected the couple would soon be married and probably raising children of their own.

 

She had collected so much furniture that was in my cellar,” recalls Jarret. “She'd buy a piece here, a piece there.”

 

But there would be no marriage for Amy because on Sept. 11, 2001 – 20 years ago today – she was working as a flight attendant aboard United Airlines Flight 175, one of two jetliners that were hijacked by terrorists and crashed, minutes apart, into the Twin Towers of New York City's World Trade Center complex. She was among nearly 3,000 people killed that morning in coordinated attacks involving four passenger jets in all, including one that crashed into the Pentagon and another in a field in Pennsylvania.

 

It was the worst death toll in a foreign attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor.

 

Just 28 years old, Jarret was one of nine victims from Rhode Island, including Shawn A. Nassaney, 28, of Pawtucket.

 

There's all like these what-ifs and how could life have been different for all of us,” said Matthew Jarret, one of Amy's four surviving brothers and sisters. “She wasn't supposed to be on that flight that day...As my dad says, that's a legacy he can't pass on to one of his daughters.”

 

As the years go by, the Jarret clan, including Amy's mother Marilyn Trudeau of Glocester, has settled into a ritual gathering to remember their daughter around the anniversary of the Al Qaeda-connected terrorists attacks – an occasion marked by both joy and sadness.

 

I would say every year is as difficult as the last one,” says Matthew.

 

But this particular milestone – punctuated by in-depth, saturation coverage in the national media, often accompanied by jarring, violent images from ground zero – is a bit more emotionally draining, family members say.

 

It is in a little way because it brings everything to the forefront,” said Aram, “particularly when you see the graphic pictures on the TV, planes crashing into the towers. I can't watch that stuff.”

 

By chance, the Jarrets have been thrust into the evolving narrative of the 9/11 attacks more deeply than many other survivors.

 

Earlier this week, for example, Aram and Matthew were in Fairfield, Conn., to attend the world premiere of “Sky So Blue,” a documentary film of the 9/11 attacks by Tim Oliver, who also wrote the book, “Finding Fifteen: How My Daily Walk to the 9/11 Memorial Became a Journey of Love, Hope & Survival.”

 

The film spins off the book, which examines the lives of 15 victims of the 9/11 attacks that were randomly chosen by Oliver, a magazine writer whose office used to be located in the World Trade Center, during his regular treks past the memorial in the New York City, where their names are etched in stone. Amy turned out to be one of the personalities that Oliver chose for both the book and the film, which focuses on just five of the victims.

 

Oliver visited North Smithfield and interviewed members of Jarret family on multiple occasions as part of his research. He also shot footage for the movie with a full crew that was in Rhode Island, including Woonsocket and Providence, for several days.

 

Tim and his crew spent a lot of time putting it together and we're just very proud of him and the crew,” said Matthew. “Tim pulled it off; he did a very good job showing each of the five victims in a very good light. It was very graphic but I think it will have an impact on people once they get to see it.”

 

When he and his father were at Sacred Heart Theater in Fairfield for the premiere, they met another man who has been instrumental in elevating Amy's profile, as well as those of the rest of the UA Flight 175 crew. Paul Veneto was employed as a member of the crew on 9/11 but did not work that day.

 

Wracked by survivor's guilt, he fell into opioid addiction and eventually lost his job. He's now regained his sobriety, an achievement he says was possible only by paying homage to the doomed crew of Flight 175. He's doing that through a project dubbed Paulie's Push, which involves the Braintree, Mass., native pushing a beverage cart from Boston to New York – due to arrive today for the ceremonial memorial staged by the city.

 

There a number of similar tributes today for the victims of 9/11, including one at the State House in Providence – an annual affair that the Jarrets usually attend. But they're in New York to catch up with Veneto.

 

We want to be there for that,” says Aram, with a tone of reverence in his voice.

 

There is another memorial service for Amy in Slatersville at 6 p.m. on Monday that the Jarrets will attend, as they always do. And they encourage anyone who wants to honor her memory to donate to the scholarship fund the family launched in her name at Mount St. Charles Academy. The scholarship is given annually to a “caring and kind” middle school student who also excels academically and likes the arts, Matthew says.

 

A longtime attorney who presently serves as the town's municipal court judge, Aram Jarret and his son say that, as emotionally trying as these annual gatherings can be – they are also welcome opportunities to remember Amy and come together as a family.

 

I think it's brought us closer together in our remembrance of Amy and the memories we have,” says Aram. “We've always gotten together on this occasion...As a family we have private moments, we gather, we talk about Amy, the things we remember and it brings as closer together.”

Efforts like those of Oliver and Veneto have helped put the Jarrets under more pressure than many other victims to serve as ambassadors for the survivors. It's a daunting responsibility but one they have embraced in the spirit of what President Barack Obama might have described as a teachable moment.

Aram actually turned down a request for an interview from “Good Morning America” to do an interview today, but he had little choice to do otherwise because he would have had to be in the studio – impossible logistics with all the other things he has going on in New York.

Matt says it's vital to keep the memory of his sister – and all the victims of 911 – alive. Hers isn't just a story of loss to one family – it's part of a story that changed the life of a nation, he says. A whole generation of adults born after the terrorist attacks many may know little about it and its cataclysmic aftermath, but they need to know how 9/11 spawned an era of heightened national security, a war on terror and a seemingly endless string of military excursions in the Middle East, including one in Afghanistan that we're just getting out of after 20 years.

It was one day that changed everything, not just for his family and those of the other survivors, but for everybody, says Matthew.

It sparked so much,” he says. “It's important to remember.”

 

Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

 

 

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