9/11 survivor’s daughter “Dust Lady” Marcy Borders remembers the story of a traumatic mother to victory


Exclusive: Noel Borders is determined to take advantage of her mother’s story and carry on her legacy of patience in the face of one of the world’s greatest tragedy.

An impressive 2001 photo of a survivor of 9/11, if the photo deserves a thousand words Mercy Borders Covered with dust from the falling debris of New York City’s collapsing Twin Towers — has become a symbol of the day’s collective trauma, with thousands remaining as America’s most deadly terrorist attack remains. Millions have died and are in grief.

Photo taken by a photographer of Agence France-Presse at that time Stan HondaIs considered one of the most iconic images of 9/11 because it is so daunting.

Mercy Borders, theGrio.com

Marcy Borders, one of the many survivors of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, shot on September 11, 2001. Images are seen all over the world and are seen as symbolic images of that tragic day. — Photo: Neville Elder / Corbis Sygma (Photo: Neville Elder / Corbis, via Getty Images)

Borders, then a 28-year-old employee of Bank of America, rarely escaped alive on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower in just a few weeks of work. The story of her survival was miraculous, but in an interview a few years later, Borders revealed that her traumatic experience made her unable to cope with the aftermath. She suffered from alcohol and narcotics for years, and at some point lost custody of her little son.

Eventually, Borders checked in to a rehab facility, turned her life around and regained custody of her child. However, she was able to turn the trauma story into one of the victories, but unfortunately her New Jersey mother died of stomach cancer in 2015 at the age of 42.

Borders daughter, Noel BordersHe was only eight years old at the time of the attack, says theGrio Taking advantage of her mother’s story, she is determined to carry on her legacy of patience in the face of one of the world’s greatest tragedy. Noel, a 28-year-old elementary school history teacher who now lives in Bayonne, NJ, says he remembers 9/11 very clearly.

“I remember a third grade teacher riding a TV cart to show me the latest news events. During that time, I think I saw what was happening on the screen. She eventually turned off the screen. I did, “said Borders in a recent interview. theGrio..

Smoke is pouring from the World Trade Center after being attacked by two planes in New York City on September 11, 2001.  (Photo by Fabina Sbina / Hugh Zareasky / Getty Images)

Smoke is pouring from the World Trade Center after being attacked by two planes in New York City on September 11, 2001. (Photo by Fabina Sbina / Hugh Zareasky / Getty Images)

Shortly thereafter, the students were picked up from school one by one, but Noel’s mother, the PTA president, never showed up. “I end up being like one of the last kids to leave the classroom,” she remembers.

Eventually, Noel’s aunt picked her up from school and took her home. At that time, her family did not know if Mercy Borders were dead or alive. “I remember only the adults at home were very good. They really didn’t want to talk around me. They didn’t want to let me know what was going on. They didn’t want me to know. Did not want to be upset, so whatever conversation they had, they took it out, “she says.

Despite fear of the worst, Noel’s family was relieved to discover that Mercy Borders actually survived the attack. She was able to go to the phone booth and call home to let her know that it was okay. But while she physically survived the horrors of that tragic day in history, Mercy Borders spent years struggling to feel safe and find peace of mind.

“She became like a shell shock. She was very afraid. She didn’t want a lot of people around. Even the people we knew well knew her. It didn’t hurt, “Noel recalls.

Nor did it help that the dust-covered photo of Mercy Borders from the debris was filled throughout the news. Her photo was so widely distributed that it was called “Dust Lady”. According to Noel, the image triggered her mother, who felt she would be the target of another attack as soon as she got public attention.

Mercy Borders, theGrio.com

This combo photo shows Marcy Borders on September 11, 2001, after the World Trade Center (R) and Borders were attacked during an interview at an apartment on March 8, 2002 in Bayonne, NJ. increase. She was on the 81st floor of the first tower struck. (Photo by Stan Honda / AFP via Getty Images)

Noel says he remembers asking his mother to take him to a town parade just days after the 9/11 anniversary. But while in the parade, I heard planes flying over the crowd.

“She began to panic when she heard the sound. At this point, the streets were flooded with people from our town. She held my hand and I and she escaped from the sound of the plane. They are the only two, and in the end she just stopped, “says Noel.

Noel says that every year on the 9/11 anniversary, the infamous photo of the dust-covered Marcy Borders often caused her mother. theGrio.. By inheriting the feelings of her mother, who she described as a “best friend,” she will also be emotional every time she sees a miserable photo. People often showed Noel a picture at school and asked her about it.

“I was very overwhelmed. Maybe I left her alone, or just didn’t bring the photo to school, as someone felt it should be,” she said. say.

Noel says he witnessed directly how much his mother was traumatized in the 9/11 incident, but did not know that as a child she was suffering from alcohol and drugs to deal with her grief. .. “She never allowed me to see it when I was a kid … everything she did was in the dark and much of what I found was through interviews,” she shared. increase.

“No matter how hurt or upset she was, protecting me was at the forefront of everything. To be honest, I know how everyone else treated it. I was as shocked as I was reading.

Mercy Borders and daughter Noel Borders, theGrio.com

Mercy Borders and daughter Noel Borders. (Photo: YouTube / Pix 11)

Marcy Borders was finally able to overcome her trauma and find peace in her experience within the World Trade Center Tower. Instead of thinking of herself as a victim of constant fear of another attack, she began to see herself as a survivor, someone who overcame it. Noel says her mother eventually returned to her “lively” personality and instead of hiding from the past, she began to talk about her experiences in the media as a way to regain control of the story and inspire others. ..

“Her story honestly helped many other people fight … she wasn’t just a hero to me, but a hero to many others,” says Noel. “A great many people could be involved in her story.”

But sadly, when she was diagnosed with stomach cancer, Marcy Borders encountered more tragedy. Noel, who was 22 at the time, says he didn’t know what stage his mother was in. The mother did not share the severity of the illness because she wanted her senior college student, Noel, to enjoy her last year. school.

“We remember the last Mother’s Day together. It was May 2015 and she was looking at me just like she was on the verge of tears,” she recalls. “And that’s when she confirmed that this could be our last Mother’s Day.”

Noel Borders, theGrio.com

Noel Borders, daughter of 9/11 survivor Marcy Borders known as “Dust Lady”. (Photo: YouTube / Pix 11)

Mercy could see her daughter graduate from college, but on August 24th that summer she lost the fight against cancer. Noel says the family was able to confirm that Mercy’s cancer was the result of debris she inhaled during the 9/11 attack.According to the report from Associated PressOver the last two decades, nearly 24,000 people exposed to the dust of the World Trade Center have been diagnosed with cancer.

Noel says her mission is to keep her mother’s story and memories alive for her younger brother. Zaiden, 13 — was only 7 years old when her mother died — and her son, Liam, 3 years old.

“One day she’s in his textbook, and I just want [them] Know how important it is to keep her story alive. Because there aren’t many stories of black or brown people who have witnessed or experienced 9/11, “says Noel. “I just want my son to know that my son and brother are my next legacy, and they are open enough so that I can tell her story when I’m ready. I hope to continue, because I know it took me a while to get ready. “

For the iconic photo that gave her mother the title “The Dust Lady,” Noel wants to keep in mind that people are inspired by the photo and “you can throw anything and overcome anything.”The worst isn’t over — you’re trying to overcome it..“”

Noel says he plans to publish a book in his mother’s diary someday to continue her story. “I’m ready to pick up and finish what she couldn’t do,” she says. “My daughter starts where the dust lady stops.”

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