Omar Sacirbey, Religion News Service
It's been five years now that Talat Hamdani has been able to talk about her son without crying, but she still prefers mostly not to tell his story.
"It's all over the Internet," she said.
She's stopped talking about how she initially didn't worry when her son, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who was a cadet with the New York City Police Department, didn't answer his cellphone that night; about how police questioned her and her husband when authorities couldn't find their son's body, to see if he had any terrorist connections; about the New York Post headline a month after the attacks -- "Missing -- Or Hiding? -- Mystery Of NYPD Cadet From Pakistan," that cast him as a suspect in the 9/11 attacks.
She's mostly stopped talking, but she's still fighting for the recognition she says is due her son.
Hamdani's remains were found five months after 9/11 at Ground Zero, next to his medical kit. He had been headed to his job as a research technician at Rockefeller University in midtown Manhattan but apparently detoured to the World Trade Center, voluntarily, to help.
Hamdani received full police honors at his 2002 funeral, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly both praised his heroics. His name was cited in the Patriot Act as an example of Muslim American valor, and on the first anniversary of 9/11, Kelly presented Talat Hamdani with a police shield in her son's honor.
NYPD officials promised they would "always be there" for her. "But everybody disappeared," she said.
Hamdani's name was left off the NYPD's official 9/11 memorial, and there's no mention of him in the list of 441 first responders on the National September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan. Instead, his name is etched with others on the panels surrounding the spot where the South Tower originally stood. (Read more)