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This Holiday Season, Find Connection With The Great Thanksgiving Listen

This year the holidays are arriving at a time when many across the country are experiencing unique challenges and isolation. Now more than ever before, it is vital to encourage listening and connection between young people and their elders. You can be a part of this year’s national movement to create an oral history of the United States by recording your own stories virtually through StoryCorps Connect or in person through the StoryCorps App with an elder, mentor, friend, or someone you admire. Here are a few ways you can participate in #TheGreatListen.

 

Record a Loved One’s Stories

“If there’s something you believe in and you think is right, you just have to keep pursuing it”. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to record words of wisdom like these from the people around you for The Great Thanksgiving Listen. 

If you are unsure of how to start a good conversation, check out our list of Great Questions. You can ask a loved one any of the questions from the list or create your own, using the StoryCorps App or our new program for long-distance interviews, StoryCorps Connect.



Celebrate Voices Across Generations

As a part of The Great Thanksgiving Listen 2020, we are sharing some of our favorite conversations from people of all ages.

No More Questions!

Over the course of her life, Kay Wang was a nurse, a Bloomingdales detective, and a grandmother. In a conversation with her son and granddaughter, she reluctantly shares stories from her life.
Read the full transcript here.

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“I think it's important to capture those opportunities while you still have them in your grasp.”
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A Century-Old Family Reunion Interrupted By A Pandemic

For nearly a century, the Quanders has been gathering for a family reunion each year. In the face of COVID-19, they must reconsider how to keep their history alive.
Read the full transcript here.

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"I applied to NASA four times."
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When You Have Problems, Go To The Clouds

When Wally Funk was twenty, she got the chance to prove that females could be astronauts. While the program got shut down, she didn’t let this stop her from continuing to be a trailblazer.
Read the full transcript here.

The Icing on the Cake

Growing up, Connie Alvarez saw her parents make sacrifices to get her to where she is today. Years later, she draws inspiration from their struggles and shares this with her mother, Bianca Alvarez.
Read the full transcript here.

Double Major

As a student at Bowdoin College, Wil Smith had an unique roommate, his infant daughter Olivia. By graduation, his entire school was cheering them both across the stage.
Read the full transcript here.


Bring StoryCorps to Your Classroom

The Great Thanksgiving Listen is the perfect opportunity for students to practice their listening and storytelling skills by honoring someone in their life with an interview. We invite educators to use our toolkit to bring StoryCorps into the classroom this November.


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"You’re my favorite person to talk about space to."
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‘Why do you like space so much?’: A NASA Engineer Talks With His Space-Obsessed Nephew

If he could live on any planet, Jerry Morrison would live on Kepler 452b. He shares his love of space with his uncle Joey Jefferson, a Mission Operations Engineer at NASA.
Read the full transcript here.

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"Do you remember your first day being a teacher?"
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How One Veteran Made the Journey to the Kindergarten Classroom

When Ron Cushman came back from his deployment, he was unsure of what to do with the rest of his life. Once he became a teacher, he took off on a nearly thirty year career, in which he made a lasting impact on his students.
Read the full transcript here.

Me & You

At StoryCorps, a conversation between Jackie Miller and her son Scott leads to unexpected revelations and reflections on their relationship as mother and son.
Read the full transcript here.

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"Why are you asking these questions?"
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The Questions They’ve Always Wanted To Ask

In an interview with their father, Isaiah and Josiah Fredericks ask him about the hardest thing about being a dad, as well as why they can’t have their own rollercoaster.
Read the full transcript here.

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“...everything was dead. Like if I had landed on the moon.”
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In the US 50 Years, a Man Reflects on His Arrival from Honduras

Over 50 years ago, Roy Daley arrived in America, although it wasn’t quite what he was expecting. At StoryCorps he remembers his first Thanksgiving in the United States.
Read the full transcript here.

Want even more stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen Aims to Bring Families — and the Country — Together Through Listening

In a year when the holidays will look markedly different than usual, we invite students nationwide to use the new remote recording platform StoryCorps Connect to record conversations with a grandparent, teacher, mentor, or another elder.

People everywhere are being advised to reconsider their plans for the holidays as America endures a spike in COVID-19 cases. The Great Thanksgiving Listen gives families and communities a safe opportunity to come together, across generations, to listen to the stories of their loved ones. This year, we are offering StoryCorps Connect, a tool for recording and preserving conversations between loved ones, so people can connect while remaining socially distant.

With permission, each interview becomes part of American history in the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress and online at archive.storycorps.org. We’re excited to share that in 2020, we are adding transcripts of participants’ interviews powered by Google Cloud’s state-of-the-art AI technology and advanced machine-learning capabilities. With this innovation, StoryCorps’ collection of stories of our time in America is now accessible to more people via search and in written word.

Each StoryCorps conversation provides an opportunity to ask an elder about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. This year, it feels more important than ever to make time for these conversations.

Anyone with an interest in storytelling can participate. We actively encourage people of all ages to create your own unique oral history with an elder or loved one in your life, and to transform the holidays into a time of intergenerational sharing.
 
Bring The Great Listen Into Your Home

Download a PDF

PRESS RELEASE: As Americans are encouraged to stay home for the holidays, StoryCorps issues a nationwide call to digitally connect students with elders by recording their stories for American history

Learn what your support makes possible.

Do you have the courage to listen? Take One Small Step

Every day brings new evidence of how frustrated, angry, and disconnected from each other Americans feel. We are awaiting the outcome of the presidential election with a mix of anticipation and anxiety, but also hope for what comes on the other side of November 3. We can see that there is a way forward for our country if we have the courage to listen.

That’s why I’m proud to announce that we’re scaling up One Small Step, our multi-year national effort to begin to mend the fabric of a country at the breaking point.

Listen to a special broadcast we produced in partnership with NPR about the effort.

By bringing together strangers across political divides to have courageous and meaningful conversations about their lives, One Small Step helps to decrease feelings of contempt, allowing people in America to see one another as human beings.

Conversations recorded for One Small Step are not about politics, but rather about who we are as people: what we care about, and our dreams for the future. And just as with every StoryCorps conversation we’ve recorded since 2003, the interview becomes part of American history at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (with participant permission).

Map of One Small Step Cities in 2020-2021
In 2020, we’re anchoring the effort in Birmingham, Alabama; Richmond, Virginia; Shreveport, Lousiana; and Wichita, Kansas. If you’re in one of these cities, please sign up to learn more about how you can help spread the word.

Our hope is that One Small Step, in these cities and across the country, will remind people in this country of the humanity in all of us, that it’s hard to hate up close.

Dave Isay
StoryCorps Founder and President

Stories for Veterans Day

In recognition of Veterans Day, we are honoring those in the military community by amplifying their voices. Listen to stories from our Military Voices Initiative, our national project to record and preserve the stories of veterans, service members, and military families.

Share your story. StoryCorps Connect makes it possible to interview a loved one remotely and then upload it to the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress. Learn more at StoryCorpsConnect.org.

Germans in the Woods

As a World War II veteran, Joseph Robertson recalls his time as an infantryman and what he refers to as the saddest memory of his life.
Read the full transcript here.

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"Farming...is about life over death rather than death over life."
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How Sheep Farming Helped an Injured Army Vet Overcome PTSD

Through farming, veteran Mickey Willenbring was able to heal after returning home, and discover new life.
Read the full transcript here.

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“Because she was Asian, they wouldn’t accept her. Mom said she didn’t care; she enlisted anyway.”
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Remembering One Tough Veteran: Lieutenant Susan Ahn Cuddy

Flip and Christine Cuddy sit down to remember their mother, Lieutenant Susan Ahn Cuddy, a trailblazer and the first Asian American woman in the Navy.
Read the full transcript here.

Love Lost, And Found

After meeting in a transgender veteran’s support group, Sue McConnell and Kristyn Weed became as close as sisters. The two women share a story of courage — on and off the battlefield.
Read the full transcript here.

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“We are what we are because of our insistence on being with one another.”
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Love In The Time Of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

After marrying in 2018, couple Mike Rudulph and Neil Rafferty share the story of their relationship, and what it meant to love during the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Read the full transcript here.

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“You have to go back. And you’re going back to train for the Olympics.”
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Olympic Gold Medalist Melvin Pender on the 1968 Mexico Games

Veteran Melvin Pender expresses the pride he felt when seeing John Carlos’ Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics during his temporary leave from the military to compete in the Olympic relay.
Read the full transcript here.

Tom’s War

For Tom Geerdes, his road to recovery following the Vietnam War took time. He shares the experience of this journey with his daughter Hannah.
Read the full transcript here.

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"Here in the States, I don't even know how to talk to people."
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The Transition Home

After returning home from Afghanistan, Drew Pham has had a hard time adjusting to normal life again. With his wife Molly Pearl at his side, he is able to get through.
Read the full transcript here.

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"We would turn the sound on so that it sounded like tanks moving on the roads."
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104-Year-Old WWII Veteran Remembers Top-Secret ‘Ghost Army’

When Gilbert Seltzer joined the army during World War Two, he was given a top secret mission; to draw fire away from troops through coordinating misinformation, phony convoys, and even inflatable tanks to trick the enemy.
Read the full transcript here.

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

Announcing Our First Location for One Small Step Cities: Wichita, Kansas

One Small Step is an effort from StoryCorps to connect people who disagree with one another to remind them of their shared humanity. In doing this, we can create spaces for thoughtful reflection and begin to mend the fraying fabric of our nation — one conversation at a time.

Today, we announced that Wichita, Kansas, will be the first of four locations where we anchor our work in 2020 and 2021. Read our announcement here.

Our work on this effort began in the days following the 2016 presidential election, when we as an organization were moved to consider how StoryCorps could respond to the growing culture of division in the United States. Since 2003, more than half a million people have taken the step of sitting down with a loved one to record a conversation about their lives. We wondered: Would people take one small step towards learning about the life and beliefs of someone who was a stranger and held contrasting political beliefs? When taken to scale, could we start to undo the idea of “us” versus “them”?

We have been piloting this concept, which we called One Small Step, since 2018. More than 800 people across 40 U.S. cities have taken part in the effort, affirming that our method — two people in a safe and respectful conversation facilitated by StoryCorps — can increase our hope and decrease feelings of contempt for people who are different than us.

We are now expanding this effort to heal and humanize each other in the challenging months and years ahead. In 2020, One Small Step will be staged in four politically divided cities, communities that our research indicates have a good probability of adopting the ethos and techniques of StoryCorps’ listening across divides. This includes Wichita, Kansas and three more locations to be announced this month.

While we are working locally in these cities, One Small Step is a nationwide project created by StoryCorps to help people get past the labels of “Republican” and “Democrat”, “liberal” and “conservative” to find our common humanity and remind Americans of the shared values that unite us.

Sign up for our email list to learn more about interview opportunities in other locations across the country.

One Small Step is made possible by the generous support of the Fetzer Institute, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s The Wunderkinder Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Charles Koch Institute. StoryCorps thanks these donors for their commitment to this project and to bridging divides in America.

Voices to Honor for Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re highlighting the voices of Native American people through a few of their conversations at StoryCorps. Listen below to the stories and lives of indigenous people from all backgrounds across the country.

Share your story. StoryCorps Connect makes it possible to interview a loved one remotely and then upload it to the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress. Learn more at StoryCorpsConnect.org.

My Father, the Giant

Thompson Williams remembers his father, a larger-than-life tribal leader of the Caddo Nation and a veteran of World War II.
Read the full transcript here.

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"I remember going through family albums looking for my face in old photographs..."
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Diane Tells His Name

Diane Tells His Name’s family is from the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota — something she didn’t know until she was an adult, after she discovered she had been adopted.
Read the full transcript here.

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“This year, I'm the age she was when she disappeared.”
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Remembering Leona Kinsey

Carolyn DeFord, a Puyallup tribal member, remembers her mom, Leona Kinsey, who disappeared twenty years ago. She is part of an epidemic of Native American women who have gone missing and never been found.
Read the full transcript here.

The Bookmobile

Storm Reyes was working full-time at a migrant work camp at age 8. She remembers the day a bookmobile arrived, and the world was suddenly at her fingertips.
Read the full transcript here.

Where I Come From

Barnie Botone looks back on the beauty and the tragedies that he and his family have experienced on the railroad.
Read the full transcript here.

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"Farming...is about life over death rather than death over life."
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How Sheep Farming Helped an Injured Army Vet Overcome PTSD

After returning from the army, Mickey Willenbring’s PTSD was so debilitating that she could no longer live in the city. This is her story of recovery.
Read the full transcript here.

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

Stories for Disability Awareness Month

Disability Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to lift up the voices of those living with disabilities and share their many unique lived experiences. In recognition of this month, we dedicate our newest collection to the stories of these individuals, and their loved ones who offer their support and admiration.

Share your story. StoryCorps Connect makes it possible to interview a loved one remotely and then upload it to the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress. Learn more at StoryCorpsConnect.org.

Leading the Way

John Washington was born blind and developed a severe loss of hearing over time. In a conversation with his daughter, John shares the pride he took in raising his children.
Read the full transcript here.

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“If you had walked away and left me there, nobody would have looked askance.”
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We Have One Heart

Yomi Wrong expresses her admiration and thanks her mom, Sarah Churchill, for never giving up on her.
Recorded in partnership with the Disability Visibility Project.
Read the full transcript here.

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"Here comes this guy into my office. Drop dead gorgeous."
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Everything We Did, We Did Together

Meaghan Starkloff Breitenstein sits down with her daughter, Colleen Kelly Starkloff, to remember her husband Max, who was left quadriplegic following a fatal car accident in his twenties.
Recorded in partnership with the Disability Visibility Project.
Read the full transcript here.

Bonnie and Myra Brown

In an interview with her daughter, Bonnie Brown shares the hopes and fears she experienced as a single mom with an intellectual disability.
Read the full transcript here.

Q & A

Sarah Littman talks with her son Joshua about everything from her experience raising a child with Asperger syndrome, to what life would be like without animals.
Read the full transcript here.

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“We looked like a very scary situation coming in there. And we turned into a party people wanted to join.”
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A Visit to the ER Takes an Unexpected Turn

When Ellen Hughes entered the emergency room with her son Walker, she recognized that she was in what looked like a scary situation. But thanks to Public Safety Sergeant Keith Miller, their group became a party people wanted to join.
Read the full transcript here.

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"I don’t know what I’d do without you. Because I cannot stand being alone."
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Brothers Living with Autism on Navigating Through Work and Life

Being born only a year apart meant that brothers Russell and Remmick could lean on each other while they navigated the working world as adults with autism.
Read the full transcript here.

Want even more stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

Stories to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month gives us a chance to recognize the stories, contributions, achievements, and lived experiences of Latinx people across the United States. This month, we are offering tools to help you celebrate:

Record Your Stories With StoryCorps Connect

Honor the story of a loved one in your life using StoryCorps Connect, our remote interview platform. StoryCorps Connect interviews allow you to have meaningful conversations and preserve them at the Library of Congress through video conference technology. You can learn more and get the conversation started today at StoryCorpsConnect.org.

Looking for more activities related to Hispanic Heritage Month? Check out a digital exhibition presented as part of our collaboration with the American Folklife Center and the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress.

Digital Artifact Exploration (PDF): Celebrate Latinx heritage by experiencing it with a Digital Artifact Exploration for Hispanic Heritage Month

Share Stories

Listen to and share stories from StoryCorps Historias, our initiative to record the diverse stories and life experiences of Latinx people in the United States. You can also find our full collection of Historias stories here.

Facundo the Great

Ramón “Chunky” Sanchez remembers how teachers at his elementary school anglicized the Mexican American students’ names. But one name stumped them all.
Read the full transcript here.

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"When Papu would talk to us it was like a king holding his court."
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They Called Him Papu

Martha Escutia and her cousin Marina Jimenez share the legacy of their grandfather, nicknamed Papu, who came to the U.S. as a Bracero worker in the 1940s.
Read the full transcript here.

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“There’s vultures circling all the time.”
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Providing Life-Saving Aid at the Border

Maria Ochoa, a 70-year-old grandmother, speaks about the many times she’s walked the Arizona desert, providing life-saving water and aid to migrants crossing the border from Mexico.
Read the full transcript here.

Yelitza Castro and Willie Davis

Yelitza Castro, an undocumented immigrant, has been cooking meals for homeless people in her community since 2010. Through this work she has gotten to know Willie Davis, who has been the recipient of many of those meals.
Read the full transcript here.

Gabe and Chris López

Gabe López, age 8, remembers when things really changed for him as a transgender kid. With his mother and friends by his side, he knew he wouldn’t have to face these changes alone.
Read the full transcript here.

Mi Abuela Panchita

Bishop Ricardo Ramierez remembers his grandmother Panchita Espitia as a formidable and wise woman. He shares her memory and the valuable spiritual lesson she taught him at the end of her days.
Read the full transcript here.

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

Remembering September 11

In recognition of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, we have put together a few stories from our September 11th Initiative, created in partnership with The National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The stories below are told by survivors and those who lost loved ones on that day and in the events to follow. Their words illustrate the innumerable personal costs of this national tragedy. We hope that this collection offers a space for reflection and remembrance.

Listen to the full collection of September 11th Initiative stories, and learn more about the September 11th Initiative.

Share your story. StoryCorps Connect makes it possible to interview a loved one remotely and then upload it to the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress. Learn more at StoryCorpsConnect.org.

She Was the One

When Richie Pecorella met Karen Juday, she captured his heart and changed his life. They were engaged when she was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Read the full transcript here.

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“I opened up the back door of that church to see these hundreds of eyes all staring back at me, knowing where I had been.”
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Joe Dittmar

Joe Dittmar recounts making his way back home on September 11, 2001 after surviving the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Read the full transcript here.

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"He gave me the joys of motherhood, and the pains of motherhood."
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Salman Hamdani

Talat Hamdani remembers her son, an EMT and NYPD cadet who died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 as a first responder and was wrongfully accused of having terrorist links.
Read the full transcript here.

 

John and Joe

The late John Vigiano Sr., a retired FDNY captain, honors his sons — John Jr., also a firefighter, and Joe, a police detective — who were killed while saving others on September 11, 2001.
Read the full transcript here.

Sean Rooney

Beverly Eckert shares her final conversation with her husband, Sean Rooney, before he died in the south tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Read the full transcript here.

 

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"There's a form we fill out and it's called 'On My Death.'"
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Father Mychal Judge

Father Michael Duffy delivered the homily at the funeral of his friend Father Mychal Judge, a victim of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Read the full transcript here.

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"People saw only a turban and a beard."
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Balbir Singh Sodhi

Rana and Harjit Sodhi remember their brother, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man who was killed in the first hate crime following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Read the full transcript here.

Always a Family

Monique Ferrer remembers the last time she spoke with her ex-husband, Michael Trinidad, on September 11, 2001, when he called her from the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower to say goodbye.
Read the full transcript here.

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.