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"You never move on from it": Widow wears wedding dress to 9/11 memorial in honor of late husband

Widow fought for 9/11 memorial after husband’s death
Widow fought for 9/11 memorial after husband... 02:36

Monica Iken ironed her wedding dress, getting ready to wear it after it spent 20 years in a box. Although she ironed away every wrinkle, she did not smooth over the tragedy it represents. 

"I think wearing the dress makes a statement," she said. "That I was happily married the day he died. And I was looking forward to having a family." 

Wearing the dress, she placed flowers and a photo from her wedding on her late husband's name that is etched on the side of the 9/11 Memorial reflecting pools in New York City. 

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Monica Iken wore her wedding dress to the 9/11 Memorial in memory of her husband who was killed in the attacks.  CBS News

Iken was married just 11 months when her husband, Michael, a bond trader, died in the second tower on 9/11. It was a brief marriage, but Iken says the loss feels everlasting. 

"There is no moving on, you never move on from it," she said. "You move in. You move into the life that was chosen for you."

I first met Iken four months after 9/11. She had already moved into that new life, advocating for a memorial on the site of the Twin Towers. She warned that any other use of the land would be unacceptable. "We honor those lives that were lost and we don't build over crying souls," she told CBS News in 2002. 

George Pataki, who was New York's governor at the time, said it's important to remember that a lot of people didn't think a memorial should be at Ground Zero. 

"She was tenacious, relentless," Pataki said. "People who just said, 'We had to move on. Just rebuild.' But Monica said, 'This was hallowed ground.' A lot of people deserve credit for that, but certainly, Monica Iken is among the most."

Iken has since remarried and has a family. But she freely admits and has come to accept, that she will always be in love with two men. "We can live our lives," she said, "but still keep that memory."  


To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.   

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