September 11, 2021 marks 20 years since al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes in an attack on the United States. Nearly 3,000 people were killed, and another 6,000 were injured — making it the single largest terrorist act in history. 

With numbers like that, it’s possible to lose sight of the individual lives that were lost that day.

So in 2005, StoryCorps partnered with the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum to try to record a remembrance for each life that was lost.

In this episode, we’re going to hear from the friends and family members of one of those people  — Richard Palazzolo.

Richard Palazzolo outside their family’s home in upstate New York, in 2000. Courtesy of the Palazzolo family.

Born just minutes apart, Richie and Ronnie Palazzolo were twin brothers who shared everything. They both ran marathons, cheered for their favorite football team— the Minnesota Vikings — and even followed the same career path. 

They worked as brokers in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Ronnie on the 26th floor at Garban-Intercapital, and Richie on the 105th floor for Cantor Fitzgerald. They were both there on the day of the attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001. 

Ronnie survived, but Richie did not. 

Ronald Palazzolo holding his cousin Christina Della Pelle with his brother Richard, New Years Eve, 1994. Courtesy of the Palazzolo family.

In 2021, Ronnie came to StoryCorps to honor the memory of his brother; so did his sister Maria Alfano, cousin Christina Della Pelle, and close friend Jack Griffo, who worked with Ronnie on the 26th floor, and also survived the attack that day.

Ronnie, Jack, and Richie on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire circa 1998. Courtesy of Jack Griffo.

The Palazzolo family circa 1965 in Queens, NY. Courtesy of the Palazzolo family.
Top photo: Artwork by Rosalyn Yoon.

These recordings were made in partnership with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as part of StoryCorps’ effort to collect one recording for each life lost that day.

Released on September 11th, 2021.