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Kewaskum 9/11 victim's family educating next generation about tragedy

Posted at 1:36 PM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-11 19:17:21-04

KEWASKUM -- For one Kewaskum family, the 17 years since 9/11 feel like forever and yesterday all at once. 

On this day, Andrea Haberman was killed in the attack on the World Trade Centers in New York City. 

"It's kind of weird around this time," Al Kolodzik, the former fiance of Andrea Haberman said. "It feels more like yesterday and as it gets to the middle of the year, it feels even longer ago."

The family usually spends the anniversary in New York, in the company of thousands of other families they've been connected to through this tragedy. However, this year they are in their hometown of Kewaskum.

"For those alive then, the horrific images of suffering, chaos and destruction remain fresh in our minds," Gordon Haberman, Andrea's father said. "This is especially true for our family."

Gordon spoke to hundreds of area residents about today's anniversary. He acknowledged the pain his family has gone through and still deals with when thinking about that fateful day. 

"Today, I still cannot imagine the despair she and all those trapped felt," Haberman said. "I try not to dwell on those thoughts. However, anniversaries tend to bring it all back."

The images from 9/11 are seared into all American's minds. However, to a growing number of people, they're just images from a history book. While Gordon grows older and grayer, the crowd listening him is getting younger. He looks out into the sea of people at Kewaskum Municipal Building and sees students barely old enough to be alive during the terrorist attack. Most of which, were born well after 2001. 

"It was heartening to see all these young people here," Haberman said. "They could have no idea what happened that day, fortunately. However, they should learn it in the right way when they do learn it. It's part of America's fabric now and it's history."

Haberman doesn't focus on the unbelievable images from the day. He doesn't delve deep into the death and destruction of it all. Rather, he focuses on what happened in the days, weeks, months and years after this happened. 

"A friend in New York put it this way," Haberman said. "We do not let 9/11 divide us. Rather, it brought us closer and America emerged stronger and more united than ever. The importance and compassion of family and community, when faced with an unspeakable tragedy such as we all experienced, was repeated in every state in this country. Know how people responded to it and how America emerged united and stronger because of 9/11."

Haberman hopes to continue educating the youth about what happened that day. He'll of course speak about his daughter, but he knows they are just one of thousands of similar stories. Instead, he'll choose to teach about the patriotism in the country and how terrorism didn't win. 

"Having something positive come from it is the only thing we can do at this point," Haberman said. "I think [Andrea] would be ok with it."

In Kewaskum, they will open a 9/11 Memorial with a beam from the North Tower on display. They plan to break ground in the spring.