Cousin’s death in 9/11 attacks had lasting impact on local family
GUILDERLAND For Linda Mair-Grayling, Tuesday morning was like any normal weekday.
The 43-year-old single mother dropped off her daughter at her sister’s place in the Bronx, then hopped the No. 6 subway to downtown Manhattan. She grabbed an elevator up to the 100th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower and began her day as an office clerk at the insurance brokerage of Marsh & McLennan Cos.
But then came the terrorist attacks. Less than two hours after Mair-Grayling arrived, the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the northern facade of One World Trade Center, just four floors below her office.
No one ever heard from Mair-Grayling again. Roughly four weeks later, workers at ground zero identified her remains through DNA samples provided by her siblings.
Aaron Mair, her cousin from Rotterdam, was working with the state Emergency Management Office at the site of the ruined towers during the immediate aftermath. The discovery of Mair-Grayling’s remains was bittersweet for the family, he recalled, since it brought finality to what they already suspected.
“Pretty much she was on an impact floor and was on the impact side,” he recalled Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the infamous day. “You just knew nobody recovered from that.”
Mair was among those who read names of World Trade Center victims at the 9/11 memorial in New York City on Wednesday. The moment gave him pause to reflect on the relative he lost and how the attacks impacted the close-knit family.
Mair was close with his cousin, even though she lived downstate. He recalled her as woman filled with energy and determined to provide for her 7-year-old daughter, Isa Setsu, the center of her life.
“She was a working mom,” he said. “She was looking to move up, and [the World Trade Center] is where things were happening.”
The attacks changed a lot for the Mair family. Most left New York City after the attacks, including Mair-Grayling’s daughter and the sister who became her guardian.
In Mair’s household, both his teenage daughters were galvanized by the tragedy. Marjana, then a senior at Mohonasen High School, entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point the year after the attack; Heba, then a Mohon junior, followed in her older sister’s footsteps at the academy. Both are now captains in the U.S. Army.
Mair, who now lives in Guilderland, said his daughters pause for somber reflection on Sept. 11 to remember the relative they lost that day. He also takes time each year to remember his cousin and a pledge he made as he toiled amid the ruins 12 years ago.
“As a worker and as a family member, I will be there every year,” he said.