A special friendship born of tragedy
NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA - January 5, 2012 (WPVI) -- It was a remarkable reunion in Northeast Philadelphia Thursday between graduates of a local school, and a 9/11 survivor.
It has been nearly eight years since Nazareth Academy Grade School's Class of 2004 has seen the woman who became their long-time pen pal, inspiration and friend.
Their relationship began shortly after 9/11, an event the young students were only beginning to understand and Ling Young, barely survived.
"Either you're dead or alive, that's how it is," said Ling. "Anybody in between who was injured or severely injured, were completely forgotten."
That's how Ling Young felt after an airplane struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center in 2001.
She was on the 78th floor and was critically burned in the attack.
Several months later, 6th graders from Nazareth Academy Grade School at the time, began writing to her. Ling says the students, now College students, let her know that she was not forgotten.
The school's principle encouraged the Class of 2004 to write and pray for Ling. It soon became an important life lesson.
"When we get out of ourselves, that's when we can give what God gives us to give," said Sister Mary Ann Allton.
"It helped the students understand the terrorist act," said John Fischer. "At that age, I don't think we really grasped what was happening. Having her there, it helped us understand and appreciate the magnitude of the situation."
Ling visited the school and.even attended the student's 8th grade graduation.
"After we heard about Ling, and she actually came in and we got to see her, I think that made a big impact on how we viewed 9/11," said Gina Ross.
"It became something much more personal," said Alex Gregory. "It's been great to see how much we helped her through the years."
"Just to see the progress she's made, it just feels awesome," said Capri Mancino.
"Also it taught us a lot about being present for someone who is going through a hard time," said Adam Gault, who is now a senior at the University of Scranton.
"That small act meant so much in her recovery process," said Matt McGarvey.
Ling's son, Richard and granddaughter, Julia were also at Thursday's reunion, and her husband was on hand to record more memories and lessons for future Nazareth graduates.
"I feel stronger when I hear her story," said Ava Roberts. "It's an incentive to us to keep moving forward; to endure life's every troubles."
The impact of the relationship between Ling and the students has become a long lasting friendship.
9/11 attacks, college, northeast philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state, lisa thomas-laury
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