Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Uncle remembered for Trade Center heroism

Relatives location remains unknown; search continues

September 26, 2001
Human resources senior Chrissie Golden, left, and sister Joanne Golden, a psychology junior, are still waiting for word on the fate of their uncle who was working on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center when terrorists attacked Sept. 11. —

Chrissy Golden began her morning Sept. 11 in a similar manner as many other MSU students did, learning about the attacks in New York and Washington.

But Golden’s devastation was more personal.

“I woke up that morning early because I had to be at work at 10,” said Golden, a human resources senior. “As I was getting ready my boyfriend called and told me to turn on the TV because an airplane had gone in the World Trade Center. I turned it on, amazed because I thought it was an accident - but I had to go to work, so I didn’t watch it for very long.”

As she watched the beginning of the destruction, Golden said she remembered her uncle worked somewhere in New York.

She just couldn’t remember where.

So Golden continued her day as normal, heading to her job at the Meridian Mall in Okemos.

But something wasn’t right, she said.

“When I got in (to work), we brought out a radio and put it on the counter - we really didn’t care what customers thought,” she said. “And since the time I had left my apartment, another plane hit.”

A fury of phone calls came next. Golden contacted her mother and attempted to get in touch with her aunt in New York.

Golden found out exactly where her uncle, Alan Friedlander, worked.

His office, in Aon Corp., an insurance company, was on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower - the office he arrived at early Sept. 11 after taking a train from his Yorktown Heights, N.Y., home.

Golden said all of her relatives except her immediate family live in New York state.

After hours of making phone calls, no one had heard from Golden’s uncle.

“I was shocked, and I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “We had no information, couldn’t contact him or my aunt because the phones were down. I didn’t end up going to any of my classes that day - I stayed at home, glued to the television.

“It was the longest day of my life.”

And after more than two weeks since the tragedy, Golden said she is still coping with the situation, but she’s not looking for pity.

“It’s hard because not a lot of people were directly involved, and they could quickly return to their normal routines,” she said. “I tried not to be offended, but it’s hard.

“In some ways I feel like I should wear a sticker saying ‘I am missing a family member.’”

Golden said hearing her aunt’s story made the situation even more chilling.

“My aunt hopped on a train to go down to the site,” Golden said. “And someone next to her asked if she was going to take pictures. My aunt just said, ‘No, I am going to find my husband.’

“What’s even harder is seeing all the people on TV with signs of their missing family and knowing my aunt is one of them.”

Golden said she prays for the safe return of her uncle, but she has heard stories about what happened to him before the building collapsed.

Golden said she heard he tried to help others people get out of the building.

“It’s nice to think my uncle was a hero,” Golden said.

Her sister Joanne Golden, a psychology junior, said friends are a big help.

“It’s been weird because at first everyone had the initial shock, but things started to calm down on campus, and I was still feeling the same way I did right after it happened,” Joanne Golden said. “It was really difficult at first to go to class, but as time goes on I feel a lot better.”

Golden said Martha Cook, a resource development junior, is one person who helped her deal with the tragedy.

“Every time I hear her talking about it, I feel bad,” Cook said. “I am just trying to help her out as much as possible and be supportive whenever I can be.”

Rachel Wright can be reached at wrightr9@msu.edu

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