two-year-old-girl who commanded so much attention was Christine Lee
Hanson, the couple's beloved granddaughter and the youngest victim of
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Hansons lost Christine, along with their son Peter and their
daughter-in-law Sue, who they loved as a daughter. The family members
were among the passengers aboard Flight 175, traveling from Logan
Airport in Boston to California. The young parents were taking
Christine on her first plane ride to see her great-grandmother before a
fun-filled stop at Disneyland.
But the plane was hijacked. C. Lee Hanson felt helpless as he spoke to
Peter, who was on his cell phone, just moments before the stolen craft
was crashed into the World Trade Center's south tower.
Since that horrific day, family, friends, townspeople and strangers
rallied to the Hansons' side to help them to cope with their terrible
Though the Hansons are active Easton residents with Lee serving on the
Board of Finance and Eunice as the Republican Registrar of Voters, both
have Boston roots and Peter and Sue had been living in Groton, Mass.
Today, on the second anniversary of 9/11, Lee Hanson will speak at a
groundbreaking ceremony in Boston Gardens for a memorial wall amid the
park's beautiful setting of flowers, historic statues and swanboats.
"It gives me a chance to thank two groups of people," Hanson said, "the
people from all over the country who have been so great. Americans have
supported the victims so greatly, with the cards, the notes, the
quilts. I just want to thank people for their kindness and their love,
and the victims' families for their kindness and their love.
"When we met them, we drew strength from them. They are really taking
care of the kids who are with them still, and families in support
groups and advocacy groups."
One pillar of support for the Hansons is the Congregational Church of
Easton. In addition to a tree being planted in their granddaughter's
memory on building's grounds, church members set up the Christine Lee
Hanson Memorial Fund.
Money raised through the fund was recently used to construct the
Christine Lee Hanson Treatment Room in the pediatrics area of Boston
"All the doctors, all the nurses and the child care specialists were
excited to have this room," Lee Hanson said. "And the kids love it."
The ever polite Christine once cried when a doctor gave her a shot, screaming, "No thank you! No Thank you!"
But now thousands of children may be comforted by looking away from the
needle and getting lost in the splendor of the mural painted by
Maryland artist, Gayle Mangan Kassal.
Christine loved insects, especially butterflies, and cartoons featuring
all kinds of bugs, including a grasshopper playing basketball with a
flower-hoop, adorn the walls. And the Monarch butterflies have some
"One has her flip-flops and her pony tail," Lee Hanson said of
resemblance's to Christine, "and you could see her eyes and her smile
While attending the Aug. 7 opening of the room, a comforting feeling
washed over Eunice Hanson and carried her through the month.
"I felt a lot of peace," she said. "I felt the kids were with us in
that room and Christine was floating around in there and I heard Peter
say, 'Thanks mom.'"
Keeping up the fight
Numerous acts of kindness have been performed in Christine, Sue and Peters' names.
The Hansons have received poems from Peter's former classmates and
professors at Northeastern University, where he was an English major -
most writings mentioning his red dreadlocks, the favored hairstyle of
his younger days.
The university offers writing awards and hosts an annual lecture in
Peter Hanson's name, in which a noteworthy author or poet is invited to
be the featured speaker.
Meanwhile, Boston University honors its former medical student Sue Kim
Hanson. An endowment in her name funds an annual immunology lecture
attended by medical experts and graduate students. Immunology was Dr.
But despite the tremendous kindness that has come their way, both
Hansons agree there is no such thing as "closure," "getting on with
your life," or "getting over it."
"There's still pain," Lee Hanson said. "I don't think the pain will ever go away."
The Hansons have joined three support groups, one in Tewksbury, Mass.,
one offered by the Family & Children's Agency in Norwalk, and The
Voices of Sept. 11, a support group for parents based in New Canaan.
The Hansons said the support groups allow them to express their grief
more freely among people who are going through the same thing.
But the people in these groups are providing more than shoulders to cry
on. Lee Hanson said they are leading a courageous fight to ensure this
tragedy never happens again.
Efforts are being made to learn why the Twin Towers collapsed, to
pressure the New York and New Jersey port authorities to construct new
buildings in accordance with state and federal building codes, and for
a more stringent process in applying for and keeping drivers' licenses.
"The people of this country have been wonderful to the victims'
families," Lee Hanson said. "The victims' families are doing more than
coping. They're taking action. I think that's just part of our national
character to tell the truth."
Painful memories were starting to surface for the Hansons as the
anniversary of 9/11 was approaching, but a segment on the television
show, "This Week with George Stephanopolous," brought the terrorist act
even closer to home.
Eunice Hanson had seen news footage of her son's plane being crashed
into the building from a distance, when she could bear to watch. But
the TV show ran a never-before-seen clip filmed by a tourist on the
"From down below you could hear it," a misty-eyed Hanson said. "You
could hear the plane and you could see the speed, watching it bank and
hit the building. That's when it hit me."
But as tough as it is for them when the horrific scene is replayed on
television, the Hansons said they prefer depictions of reality to
sanitized news coverage.
"You don't want it sanitized," Eunice Hanson said. "Those kids were
murdered. Those people were murdered on those planes. This was a
deliberate attack of terrorism."
Today the Easton couple will join the rest of the country in paying homage to all whose lives were lost.
Following today's ceremony at Boston Gardens, "Christine's Lullaby" -
an elegy for orchestra composed by Minnesota music student Carl
Schroeder as a gift to keep the little girl's memory alive - will be
performed during a reception inside the State House.
"It's going to be performed by a string quartet," Lee Hanson said.
"Carl Schroeder rewrote it, so they could play it. He told them he
would be honored to do it. He's a great guy."
On Monday afternoon, the proud grandfather sat back in an easy chair,
often closing his eyes, while listening to a CD of the moving tribute.