Though the woman remarried five years after losing her husband, she honors her late husband every chance she gets.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 16, 2021. It has since been updated.
A lot of lives were lost on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attack, back in 2001. Even though it's been 20 years since the tragic incident, the pain still lingers around for people who lost a loved one that day, and Monica Iken is one of them, per CBS News.
Iken first met her husband on September 11, 1999, and on the second anniversary of the day, she lost her husband forever. Iken and Michael got married on October 27, 2000, but they only spent 11 months together as man and wife.
"I went to bed a happily married newlywed and woke up the next day a widow."
On the morning of September 11, 2001, her husband, the bond trader, kissed her goodbye and went to work on the 84th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. According to New York Post, during the day, the then 37-year-old Michael called Iken a couple of times to tell her what was happening. "He called me twice, first saying calmly, “Turn on the TV. A commuter plane has hit the building. Everything is fine and under control.” The last thing he said was, “People are jumping out of windows. I have to go.”
Even after two decades, she has not received any remains of her husband, and though she was only married to Michael for a short while, the grief of losing him was unbearable. "There is no moving on, you never move on from it. You move in. You move into the life that was chosen for you."
"Many feel we should all move on, it’s been 20 years. But for some of us on that day, our loved ones were murdered on national TV. It became our “forever nightmare"," she added.
Over the years, Iken honored her late husband's memory by founding the Iken Science Academy on the Upper East Side in his name. It is reportedly the first known STEM school for students below 5 years old. She used the compensation she received from "the federal Victim Compensation Fund" to set up the school.
Further, Iken also protested against the idea of re-building towers on the site where the twin towers stood. She became an activist for preserving the site and is crediting for advocating to build a memorial. "We honor those lives that were lost and we don't build over crying souls," she told CBS News back in 2002.
The governor of New York at the time, George Pataki, also praised her efforts and said: "She was tenacious, relentless. People who just said, 'We had to move on. Just rebuild.' But Monica said, 'This was hallowed ground.' A lot of people deserve credit for that, but certainly, Monica Iken is among the most."
To mark the 20th year anniversary of 9/11, Monica honored Michael's memory by wearing the wedding dress she wore when she tied the knot with him and visiting the memorial. "I think wearing the dress makes a statement," she said. "That I was happily married the day he died. And I was looking forward to having a family."
Eventually, Iken remarried. She got married five years after the tragic loss of her husband, to Bob Murphy, an FDNY firefighter. Still, she made sure to love and honor Michael, in any way she could. She even told her husband that her ex-husband would always be a part of her life.
"When I first met Bob, I told him I would keep the last name Iken, but hyphenate it with another name if I remarried. When we got engaged, I made a new ring that incorporated diamonds from Michael’s band. Bob understands 9/11 and why Michael will always have a place in my heart. It’s not easy for him, because I’m in love with two people, including a dead man. But I’m blessed to have a wonderful husband and two beautiful girls who are part of Michael’s legacy because they are a part of me."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | CBS News (Widow fought for 9/11 memorial after husband’s death)