Grieving Mom Salutes Son at 9/11 Memorial
By Liz Rhoades - Queens Chronicle
Talat Hamdani salutes her hero son, Mohammad Hamdani, during the reading of names of 9/11 victims on Monday in lower Manhattan.
Wearing a blue suit with a picture of her son pinned to the front, Talat Hamdani saluted his sacrifice during the reading of names Sunday at the 9/11 ceremony at the World Trade Center site.
The Hamdani family lived in Bayside 10 years ago when Mohammad, known as Sal, was on his way to his job as a research assistant at Rockefeller University. It is believed he saw the towers get hit from the elevated No. 7 train and rushed to the scene, where he perished.
During Sunday’s ceremony in lower Manhattan the mother was one of dozens of family members who read the names of those who died during the Sept. 11 attacks. At the end of her reading, Hamdani gave the following tribute to her son:
“My son, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, my breath, my life. Your brothers, Adnaan, Zeshan and I love you and dearly miss you every moment of our existence. You rushed into the burning towers to rescue humanity and transcended the barriers of race, faith and ethnicity and gave the ultimate sacrifice. Abu [your father] died two years later. You are my strength and courage. America acknowledges your sacrifice and honors you today.
“You died defending the American values of democracy, liberty and freedom to pursue a faith of your choice. You are not only my young Jedi, you are America’s young Jedi and America salutes you.”
She then raised her right hand and gave a military salute.The audience applauded.
Contacted Monday by phone, Hamdani said she was exhausted from the 9/11 ceremonies, but found that her participation in the reading of names and her speech “is a healing feeling for me.”
Her son, 23, was trained as an EMT and his family believes he went to the disaster to help. But soon after the attack, authorities thought he might have been involved in the plot.
Hamdani was born in Pakistan, moved here as a young child and was a Muslim. He also was an American citizen.
His family not only suffered the loss of their son, but the public perception by some that Mohammad was a terrorist. “We knew right away that he went down to the area to help,” Talat Hamdani said.
Mohammad’s body was found a month later near the north tower, but his family wasn’t officially notified until the following March following DNA testing. A medical bag and identification were found with the remains. He received a hero’s funeral, attended by the mayor and the police commissioner.
The young man was a graduate of Queens College and hoped to go to medical school. He was a big fan of the “Star Wars” movies and had “Yung Jedi” on his license plate.
Talat Hamdani now lives in Lake Grove, LI where she works as a substitute teacher.