Latinas in the Line of Fire on 9/11: A Look Back

In the December 2001 issue of Latina, we spoke to the seven extraordinary women who
acted with courage, compassion and hope to help others on 9/11. Here, we remember
those Latina heroes.

1. 9/11 Heroes 1

Irma Peña, US Army Sergeant

“When lives are at stake, you can’t turn your back,” said the then 35-year old Texan, one of the first medics on the scene at the Pentagon.


2. 9/11 Heroes 2

Anna Paulino, R.N., New York University Downtown Hospital

“I saw the worst of the worst that day, and it made me stronger,” the then 27-year old Dominican nurse said. Paulino had been on the job a week.


3. 9/11 Heroes 3

Vivian López, New York City Police Department

“I didn’t realize that New Yorkers really value us as police officers. It makes me feel good about what I do,” López, then 37, told Latina.


4. 9/11 Heroes 4

Maritza Falu, attorney and volunteer

“We were there because we wanted to help,” the then-44 year old Puerto Rican said of organizing 200 Latino volunteers to help deliver supplies to Ground Zero.


5. 9/11 Heroes 5

Jessica Abril, American Red Cross

“It was our way of making them feel cared for and to show them we’re grateful for the courage they’ve shown all of us.” Colombian Abril, just 19 at the time, said of being one of the volunteers helping to feed and clothe firefighters and rescue workers at the shelter set up at Shea Stadium.


6. 9/11 Heroes 6

Juana Lomi, Paramedic

“This is my calling. I’m supposed to care for people,” the then 37-year-old Dominicana told Latina of ushering 50 people to safety as the second tower collapsed.


7. 9/11 Heroes 7

Myrna Rivera, Secretary

“I thought I could leave,” Rivera, then 35, said of finding her 60 year-old co-worker struggling after walking down 65 flights of stairs. But the Puertorriqueña couldn’t. She grabbed Mary Lu DiPalma and got her away from the building. “Myrna is my hero,” Dipalma said.


8. 9/11 Heroes Related Links