Unit 5 – Biography: Susan Retik

Susan Retik was living in a suburb of Boston with her husband and two children, ages 2 and almost 4 on September 11th. She was pregnant with their third child. Her husband traveled quite often for business, so it was not unusual for him to be heading to Los Angeles on the morning of September 11th.

After taking her children to school, she turned on the car radio and learned of the attacks. When she returned home, she was able to confirm that her husband was on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane that crashed into the North Tower. People immediately came over to give her support and continued to help her for many months afterwards. Neighbors, family and friends helped her take care of her children and her household; church groups sent quilts; anonymous people sent money in the mail.

One day, Susan was watching a television show, Oprah, and there was a story about the roles of women in Afghanistan. She was shocked when she heard about the Taliban terrorizing so many lives in Afghanistan and learned about the difficult life of women, unable to go to school or work. She reflected upon the agony of being a widow in Afghanistan and compared her own situation as a widow.

Susan realized that the terrorists who carried out the attacks on 9/11 wanted to spread hate, and she wanted to counter that. She felt that if she could reach out to one woman and help her with food and shelter, she could make a difference. Susan contacted her new friend Patricia Quigley, who had also been widowed on September 11th. Together they formed an organization calledBeyond the 11th whose mission is to help widows affected by war and terrorism in Afghanistan to gain the skills necessary to earn their own income.