Family Of 9/11 Hero Feels Special Connection To Oklahoma

Thursday, January 16th 2020, 3:47 pm
By: News 9

A tribute in Tulsa, honoring the heroes who died in the worst terrorist attack on American soil, is having an impact more than 1,300 miles away.

On the 18th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack, News 9's Reagan Ledbetter climbed 110 flights of stairs alongside 250 of Tulsa's finest. Each person wore the name of a fallen 9/11 first responder. Ledbetter's badge was for NYPD Officer Ramon Suarez. A few days later, Ledbetter got a message from Suarez's wife, who saw his story online.

"That's our guardian angel," Carmen Suarez said. "He would do anything for anybody."

Ledbetter traveled from Tulsa to New York City to hear the story of Ray Suarez's life and his death, from the people who loved him the most.

"I saw the buildings collapse and I'm like, 'oh dear God,'" she said.

Carmen Suarez thinks she will never forget the moment the twin towers collapsed, but she can smile when she remembers the fearlessness and courage her husband showed in his final hours.

"I remember clearly what I said. I said 'I'm not going to see my husband today because I know he's going to go there to help'," Carmen Suarez said.

But Ray Suarez didn't just help. He saved life, after life, after life, while running in and out of the burning buildings.

It's a tragedy Oklahomans understand. They lived through their own nightmare just six years earlier.

Carmen Suarez said she has never been to Oklahoma or to the National Memorial and doesn't even know anyone who lives here, but she said she has always felt connected to the Sooner State.

"I will never forget what happened to them. Those were innocent children. Innocent lives that were lost," Carmen Suarez said. "I understand that pain very well."

So does Carmen Suarez's daughter. Jill Suarez is channeling the pain of losing her father, by wearing the blue and helping keep the streets of New York City safe.

"I was like you know what, 'I want to do what he did. I want to follow his footsteps, continue that legacy,'" Jill Suarez said.

Jill Suarez also carries a part of her father with her every day on the job, by wearing his badge number.

"I can now see why he put the uniform on with pride, because I do the same thing. It's never going to go away," she said.

Jill Suarez said she's thankful knowing people thousands of miles away still never forget what happened on September 11, 2001.

"It means a lot because sometimes even New Yorkers forget. They forget what happened that day. They forget the meaning that day. They forget how united we all were that day. Even the day after" Jill Suarez said.

But this family knows their hero's legacy will live on in them.

"He's smiling at me because I have done a great job with his daughter," Carmen Suarez said.

And in another state that knows all to well the pain of a terrorist attack and the courage it takes it move forward.

"Now, I can say I have friends in Oklahoma," Carmen Suarez said. "I will forever be grateful."

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