LEE, N.H. — A woman from Lee whose husband was taken from her in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said she is hopeful for peace out of all the suffering.
Andrea LeBlanc has made it her focus to speak on behalf of other 9/11 families, and she’s making strides in changing the way people face conflict.
“It’s troubling,” she said. “Ten years later — where are we? I don’t think this is a safer, saner world.”
The LeBlancs are one of 11 New Hampshire families who lost loved ones in the attacks that day. Most were unwilling to share their private emotions on the 10th anniversary.
“It feels like a responsibility to speak out about it,” LeBlanc said.
Her husband, Bob LeBlanc, was a cultural geography professor at the University of New Hampshire. If he were still alive, he would be 80 and have nine grandchildren running through the beautiful gardens that he and his wife cultivated over three decades in Lee.
Shortly before the 10th anniversary of the attacks arrived, LeBlanc lost a daily reminder of her husband. She and her husband picked out a puppy, named Nettle, 17 days before 9/11, when she was 2 days old. By the time the border terrier was old enough to leave her litter, LeBlanc was struggling to deal with Bob’s death.
A week before LeBlanc was interviewed for this story, Nettle died.
“She’s been part of my life for 10 years,” LeBlanc said. “And you know, it wasn’t in the plan. It’s another one of those things that just came out of the blue.
“It’s funny how big a hole such a little dog leaves.”
LeBlanc said she’s not surprised that most other New Hampshire families declined to open up about their grief and what their lives are like now.
“It’s a private time,” she said. “And it’s kind of off limits, because it’s been so usurped.”
For LeBlanc, the milestone years are not significant. She said every day she has lived without her husband are filled with loss, memories, loneliness and a commitment to change the cultural focus on revenge.
“We’ve got serious choices to make, and it’s not about hating,” she said. “It’s about understanding. It’s about stopping and listening and caring about one another and finding out what we need.”
“Do people really believe that more violence — and given all that we know now — that military intervention is going to solve anything?” she said.
“Instead of building bombers, build schools, build hospitals,” she said. “Find out what people need and want from us instead of telling them what we’re going to do for them.”
For the past five years, LeBlanc has made a persistent push to bring the option of peace into the foreground. She said she is proud that many libraries are honoring her request for a peace table that includes books and resources on peace and cultural connection.
“There could be books on Indian cooking, on Gandhi, on conflict resolution, on kids dealing with bullying,” she said.
LeBlanc said there is joy for her this time of year, as well as pain. Her son’s birthday is Sept. 10 and is a reason for her large family to gather and celebrate and honor a year well-loved and the man who should be there with them.
“We will raise a toast to him and be grateful,” she said.
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