A group of New Yorkers, many of them originally from the Dominican Republic, remembered their own September 11 this weekend, on November 12. American Airlines Flight 587 crashed that day in 2001, just after taking off from JFK airport, in an area of Queens called The Rockaways.

The flight was bound for Santo Domingo; most of the passengers were Dominican, many from our neighbourhood in upper Manhattan. All 260 people on board, and five on the ground, were killed. The Rockaways, home to many firefighters, had suffered devastating losses only two months earlier.

Allan and I remember the event very clearly, as it was the day we were leaving for Ireland. That morning, as we were packing for our evening flight, the airport car service called and told us the airport was closed. We turned on the TV and learned why. It was impossible not to think it was another terrorist attack.

After some discussion and a conversation with Aer Lingus, we decided that if the airport opened for departures, we were going. It did, and we did.

JFK was like a ghost town - completely empty. The check-in staff all looked shell-shocked, eyes puffy and red from crying. As we took off, we could see the blinking lights from the crash scene below us. This was the only time in my life I was ever afraid to fly. I remember thinking, I want to see my dogs again, please please please, I want to see my dogs again. The captain made a reassuring announcement, and when we reached altitude, I started breathing again.

When we landed in Dublin, the crash was on the front page of all the papers there.

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