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Children who never knew father lost on 9/11 honor his memory everyday

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- It’s September 10, a day before what you might easily suspect is the most difficult day on the calendar for Ariella Russin.

But thirteen years after losing her father in the September 11 attacks, this seventh grader is well equipped to handle the rigors of homework without the paralysis of heartache.

Credit Ariella’s mother, Andrea, who gave birth to Ariella and her twin sister Olivia four days later on September 15, 2001, as she mourned the murder of her husband Steve.

Steve was an executive at the brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald and was killed on the 104th floor of the North Tower at the World Trade Center when the first plane hit.

“I can say that I started educating them as were leaving the hospital. My father was holding a video camera of the nurses pushing me out, holding the babies. And I said, 'Take a picture of the flag at half-mast. That’s for your daddy,'” said Andrea.

It is the most unfortunate education, teaching three children to remember and honor a father they never knew.

“Well, I think about daddy. And, he’s really cool. Sometimes I pretend that he’s with me. He’s gonna be helping me throughout the years,” said Ariella.

Andrea believes that means continuing to memorialize Steve in a more muted observance, while sticking to the daily routine.

So on September 11, as thousands of families gather at the World Trade Center Memorial for an annual reading of the victim’s names, this year, the Russin children have decided to go to school.

“We decided that this year, we’re going to be celebrating Steve’s birthday, which is in June, as opposed to the day of his death which is in September,” said Andrea.

“We don’t prepare for this time of year. We live this time of year, everyday of the year. It’s the rest of the world that’s preparing for this time of year,” said Andrea.

It was that comment that brought us to confront the elephant in the room -- the annual, calculated media encounters 9/11 family members reluctantly endure year after year.

When asked what her feelings are on the fact that PIX11, and most other media outlets are talking to her during this time of the year, when ordinarily there would be no other reason to, she responded, “There was a point when it was bothersome to me. There was a point that there would be a lot of calls, and silly questions. And that time has passed. At this point, it’s important to me, that people remember."