Sunday, September 11, 2011

Project 2,996: Remembering the Hanson Family: Peter, Sue, and Christine

I wrote this post as part of Project 2,996, in which bloggers remember the precious lives of those we lost on 9/11/01. On the morning of that day, the Hanson family, Peter, his wife Sue Kim, and their little daughter, Christine Lee, just 2 1/2 years old, were flying from Boston to Los Angeles to visit Sue Kim's grandmother and brothers in California. They were also anticipating Christine's first visit to Disneyland.

They never made it to their destination: terrorists hijacked their flight and crashed the United Airlines airliner into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Peter Burton Hanson, a successful software salesman and enthusiastic Grateful Dead fan, had recently taken up gardening. The previous spring, in his typically passionate way, he had planted not only roses and lilacs outside the young family's two-story white colonial house in Groton, Massachusetts, but he had also planted at least 30 trees on the property as well.

Christine loved to help her father in the garden. "After they were all done planting," recalls Peter's mother, Eunice Hanson of Easton, Connecticut, "Christine would say to a tree or plant: `I bet you are thirsty. Let me feed you and give you a hug." Christine liked to visit the playground behind the Groton, Massachusetts, Public Library, where a plaque bearing her image now stands.

Peter and Sue Kim had been married for eight years. After they met, Sue, the practical one, persuaded Peter to give up his hippie lifestyle and earn his MBA at Boston University, where she would later became a doctoral candidate in micro-biology immunology. After completing his studies, Peter become vice president of marketing at TimeTrade, a software developer in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Peter's forebears had been Greek immigrants; Sue’s parents had emigrated from Korea. Although born in Los Angeles, Sue had spent her earliest years in Korea. She lost her mother when she was just 15, and Sue appreciated the closeness and structure of Peter's family, who loved her deeply.

Peter was one of the few people who managed to reach someone on the ground as his plane was hijacked. The person he reached was his father, Lee Hanson. An audiotape of Peter's parents talking about their experience is available here.

It is worth remembering today, as the Grateful Dead reminded us in their song, "Ripple," that "there is a fountain not made by the hands of men." Surely Peter, Sue, and Christine Hanson have gone to a place where they are enjoying the water flowing from that sacred fountain.