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“You Are Your Brother’s Keeper”: A Marine Opens Up To His Son About 9/11

In August 2000, former Marine Sgt. Jason Thomas was discharged from active duty. One year later, on September 11, 2001, he was compelled to step forward as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, just miles from where he lived. 

Jason grabbed his Marine uniform and sped to Ground Zero, where he spent almost three weeks working as a first responder looking for survivors buried under the debris. 

Jason Thomas at Ground Zero on 9/11. This is one of the images developed by the firefighter who found Jason’s camera at Ground Zero. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Jason — now a Master Sgt. with the Air Force Reserve — came to StoryCorps with his youngest son, Jason Christian Thomas, to talk about the lasting impact that experience had on him. 

This was the first time they spoke about the details of that day.

Jason Thomas and Jason Christian Thomas in Florida, July of 2020. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.
Top Photo: Jason Thomas at Ground Zero after 9/11. Courtesy of Jason Thomas.

Originally aired Sept. 11, 2021, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

“Optimism Never Failed Me:” Former Child Actor and Cuban Refugee Tells Grandson to Keep Dreaming

Growing up in Havana, Cuba, Mario García was a child actor who was featured in commercials, telenovelas, and the 1961 film El Joven Rebelde.

Mario García on the set of the Cuban telenovela, Esta Es Tu Vida. Courtesy of Mario García.

That all changed when he had to flee as a refugee during the Castro regime, along with 14,000 Cuban children under Operation Peter Pan. In February 1962, he boarded a plane to live with his aunt and uncle in Miami, where he went from learning his lines to learning English.

Mario went on to start a family and become a successful journalist and though he had to put his acting career aside, he never gave up on returning to the screen. Now in his early 70s, Mario continues to audition and was an extra in the film In the Heights. Mario’s grandson, Maximilian García, has inherited his grandfather’s passion for acting.

At StoryCorps, Max asked his grandfather about how he got his start on screen.

Top Photo: Dr. Mario García and his grandson, Maximilian García. Courtesy of Mario García.

This interview is part of the Tapestry of Voices Collection through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Originally aired July 30th, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Military Mother Remembers Her Son Who Died By Suicide

Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen grew up in a military family, and followed the family tradition when he enlisted during his early 20s. He served for three years, including a deployment to Iraq with the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.


After returning stateside, he lived with his wife and their two sons while stationed in Washington. Two years later — on August 2, 2012 — he died by suicide. That year saw the highest rate of active-duty military suicides ever recorded — more soldiers died from suicide than combat.

His mother, Cathy Sprigg, sat down with StoryCorps in Tampa, Florida to remember him.

Top photo: Cathy Sprigg with her son, Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen, at Tampa International Airport in 2010. Allen was headed back to Iraq  after being on leave for the birth of his son. Courtesy of Cathy Sprigg.
Bottom photo: Cathy Sprigg and her son, Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen, dancing at his wedding in 2009. Courtesy of Cathy Sprigg.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally aired May 26, 2018, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. It was rebroadcast on May 28, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Remembering DJ Simmonds, Officer Injured During Capture of Boston Marathon Bombers

On April 15, 2013, two explosives placed near the finish line of the Boston Marathon detonated within seconds of each other, killing three people and injuring over two hundred others.

In the days following the attack, a massive manhunt took place. Four days later, police confronted the bombers on a suburban street in nearby Watertown, Massachusetts.

Boston police officer D.J. Simmonds was one of the officers who arrived on the scene. He was injured by a homemade bomb the Tsarnaev brothers threw at police.

Simmonds’ injuries led to his death almost a year later.

At StoryCorps, his parents, Roxanne and Dennis Simmonds, sat down to remember their son.


Middle photo: D.J. Simmonds. Credit: Boston Police Department, via the Associated Press.
Bottom photo: from left to right, Dennis, Nicole, Roxanne, and D.J. Simmonds. Courtesy of the Simmonds family.

Originally aired April 13, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Fanni Green and Danyealah Green-Lemons

Fanni Green tells her daughter Danyealah Green-Lemons about the difficult decision she had to make to move her mother, Pauline, into an assisted living facility, and the very hard conversation they had leading up to it.

Originally aired August 28, 2009, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

PJ Goetz and Sam Goetz

PJ Goetz tells her 11-year-old son, Sam, about how she met his father, her first impressions of him, and about some of the ups and downs of their loving 23-year relationship.

Originally aired March 6, 2009, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Roger Villanueva and Lourdes Villanueva

Lourdes Villanueva talks to her son Roger about growing up in a family of migrant workers, and the dedication and hard work she put in to get her GED—and her desire to graduate before her own children got their diplomas.

Originally aired February 27, 2009, on NPR’s Morning Edition.