Starting Over

September 11, 2011

Starting Over
Compelled by the life-changing events of the attack, some charted unexpected new courses

By Rita Price – The Columbus Dispatch
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For most Americans who weren’t young children at the time, Sept. 11 represents an imprint of memory and emotion. For a smaller group, the anniversary also recalls the start of different lives acquired as familiar ones veered off course. Some of the post-Sept. 11 change was welcome and sought. Some was not.

Choosing to Speak Out

Even in grief, John Titus says, people make choices.

After the Sept. 11 death of their daughter Alicia, a flight attendant on the United Airlines jet that sliced into the south tower of the World Trade Center, Titus and his wife, Bev, had more than enough reason to retreat to dark corners.

They decided to become peace activists instead.

“Our daughter was a victim of political violence,” Titus said. “We want to speak out about that.”

In 2002, the Champaign County couple launched the Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Program at Urbana University, where five days of special events will conclude today with the dedication of a World Trade Center Memorial in Freedom Grove park.

The Titus family also is active in Peaceful Tomorrows, an anti-war organization founded by families of 9/11 victims. They have traveled throughout the nation, Canada and Europe as part of their mission to convey simple but powerful messages about peace and justice.

Mrs. Titus acknowledges that the work is draining sometimes.

“There’s always that side of you that doesn’t want to be doing it,” she said. “But there’s never a time that we won’t.”

For most of the first year after Alicia’s death, Mr. Titus, a retired college administrator, kept a journal. Those writings are at the heart of his book, Losing Alicia: A Father’s Journey after 9/11, released this month.

It is heart-wrenching, Mr. Titus said, but aims to offer hope for brighter tomorrows. He and his wife are sure that Alicia, a vibrant 28-year-old who was planning to marry and start a family, would want her legacy to be one of love.

Maybe “those who have endured suffering have greater respect for joy,” she once wrote.

Her mom and dad wonder what Alicia’s children would have been like. They have four grandkids now — by their two other children — three of them born since Alicia has been gone.

One looks just like her.

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