Children who lost parents on 9/11 now telling their own stories

NEW YORK -- While the rituals remain the same, how we keep 9/11 in our hearts and heads is still a work in progress -- not just because of the loved ones lost that day, but because of the more than 3,000 children they left behind.

For years, the kids had their stories told for them. Now, they are telling their own.

axelrod-911-aniversary-frame-1192.jpg

Delaney Colaio

CBS News

Delaney Colaio, who was 3 years old on 9/11, lost her dad and two uncles that day. A documentary she worked on called "We Go Higher" interviews 70 of the kids who lost parents.

"It's a healing process for us and for other people to see that no matter what tragedy brings in your life that you can write your own story and you don't have to let that event define you," she said.

The story Jillian Suarez is writing is part tribute to her dad, NYPD officer Ramon Suarez. Jillian was just 9 when he was killed at ground zero helping people get to safety.

jillian-suarez-intv-1-frame-5615.jpg

Jillian Suarez

CBS News

"I missed father/daughter dances, I missed 16 years worth of Father's Days. It is very hard," she said.

Jillian is now 25 and soon to enter the Police Academy to follow in her father's heroic footsteps. 

"I want to be there if anybody needs me," she said. "Just like he was. He never hesitated, and I would never hesitate to help anybody either."

If how we remember is a process that never stops evolving, so, too, is how the children of 9/11 inspire.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.