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

Eleven years after the tragic attacks, we are honoring Latina heroes who gave their all to help victims of 9/11. In the December 2001 issue of Latina, we spoke to seven extraordinary women who acted with courage, compassion, and hoped to help others on that historical day. We will never forget.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 9/11 Heroes Related Links