As the sun rose on the morning of September 11, 2001, Jacquelyn P. Sanchez and Jorge Velasquez probably assumed that that Tuesday was going to be just like any other workday.
Getting ready for work. Fixing breakfast for themselves and their family. Jacquelyn in Manhattan would have dressed her little boy, Cedric, Jr., or C.J. as she liked to call him, getting him ready for the day. Jorge in Passaic probably made sure that his four children had what they needed for school that day, maybe checking bookbags, brown-bag lunches and the like.
What they never expected – what the world never expected – is that Jacquelyn and Jorge would have their lives taken from them that day, their livelihood cut short, by terrorists that murdered them for a cause that Jacquelyn and Jorge knew nothing about.
Jacquelyn worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of Tower1 as a compliance assistant. She had aspirations of being a criminal defense lawyer, and was going to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on the weekends. After that, she wanted to go to law school. Her mother said that her daughter “felt like she needed to save the world.” She and her boyfriend lived with their son, Cedric Jr., in Manhattan. C.J., as she called him, was just days shy of his first birthday.
Preparations were underway for his very first party, and Jacquelyn even had t-shirts made up that said I Partied at C.J.’s First Birthday. Invitations were sent, a clown and cake were ordered, but Jacquelyn never got to see her son celebrate the milestone of his first birthday, never got to see the smiles and hear the laughter of a child who knows that day is special just because they’re in the world.
When the first plane hit the tower just a few floors below her, she was able to call her mother, Kim. She wanted to know that C.J. was safe.
She was only 23 years old. A mother, a daughter, a girlfriend, a sister, and a friend, and already a hero on 9/10 for those she inspired with her determination, her desire to “save the world,” and especially to her little boy who now has to grow up never feeling his mother’s hugs or kisses.
Jorge was a security specialist for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in the south Tower. He was a determined man, evidenced by how quickly he’d been promoted from security guard to specialist, and his desire to help others bled over into every aspect of his life. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, originally from Puerto Rico, he gave his spare time to help and feed the homeless, even setting up a program at his church.
He would drive around the city, looking for those down on their luck, and with his four children, serve them homemade rice and beans made by his wife Consuelo. His faith was incredibly important to him, and he was able to help others with their own spiritual journey, spreading his desire to help those who are hungry and homeless.
Jorge was 47 years old. A father, a husband, a friend, and already a hero on 9/10 to all of the people on the street whose only hot meal of the day came from Jorge and his family. They gave their time, money, and resources to try and make the lives of those who lacked the means to help themselves a little bit better.
On 9/11, Jacquelyn and Jorge became heroes to all of us who did not know them. Do not forget them, nor the other people who became heroes that day.