Daniel Lewin and Mohammad Hamdani were two 9/11 heroes with very different stories.
Known as Danny by his friends, Lewin was the first person to die in the terrorist attacks, sixteen years ago today.
Danny was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 and an Israeli-American veteran of an elite IDF combat unit. He was trained in counter-terrorism and spoke fluent Arabic.
Investigators pieced together that Danny heard the terrorists plotting in Arabic and tried to stop the hijacking. He was stabbed to death by Saudi law student Satam al-Suqami.
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Danny emigrated to Israel with his family as a teenager. As a newcomer, he could have skipped his military service, but chose instead to serve and work his way up to the toughest unit in the IDF. He later became a successful internet entrepreneur.
Only 31 when he died, Danny had already made his mark on the world.
Mohammad Hamdani was a first responder who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Mohammad immigrated with his family from Pakistan when he was a year old and grew up in Queens, NY. He played football for Bayside High.
Hard-working and ambitious, Mohammad became an EMT and then a police cadet. He also applied to medical school, and in September 2001 he was waiting to hear if he’d been accepted.
On the morning of 9/11, Mohammad was taking an elevated subway on his way to work when he saw smoke coming from the twin towers. He got off the train and rushed to the World Trade Center to help.
Mohammad was never seen alive again. He was only 23 years old.
At first Mohammad was listed as missing. Because of his Muslim background and lack of connection to the World Trade Center, he came under suspicion of being involved in the attack. The cloud over his name did not lift until his remains were found at Ground Zero in October 2001, along with his medical bag and ID.
Mohammad Hamdani was buried with full honors from the the New York Police Department, and proclaimed a hero by the city’s police commissioner. He is mentioned in the Patriot Act as an example of Muslim-American valor on 9/11.
May the memories of these two righteous young men always be for a blessing.
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