BETTY ANN BOWSER: For commuter towns all around New York City, fall is now a season forever connected to 9/11. Basking Ridge, New Jersey, a tightly knit, affluent community of about 4,000, lost 17 men and women at the World Trade Center.
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Riders ready? Go!
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Still, on Labor Day, residents went on with it, holding the annual bike races and picnic. A day later, businessmen and women went back to Wall Street from their summer vacations, while their kids went back to school. These were just normal events, but lived now as the new normal.
VALERIE GOGER, School Superintendent: We had 21 students who lost a parent. We had several staff members who lost a friend, a relative. We had 4,400 students, almost 600 staff members who experienced shock and horror and fear and anger and panic and, I think most of all, a loss of security.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Counselors are on standby for every school in the district for as long as they're needed.
MAUREEN UNDERWOOD, Grief Counselor: I really think you'll be able to not just get through this day, but to help your whole school community grow through this day.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Trauma specialist Maureen Underwood worked closely with many of the families who lost a loved one.
MAUREEN UNDERWOOD: There is no such thing as closure. It is about going on. And we always learn to go on and we go on with strength and courage. The wonderful quote that I've always liked is from Nietzsche that goes something like you know, "we must have chaos to give birth to a dancing star." This is the chaos, and I believe that we all can learn how to dance someplace down the road from here.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: In the days and weeks after the terrorist attacks, people in town rallied around the families of victims. Annette Colbertaldo was heavily involved in the effort.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: What kinds of things did you all do?
ANETTE COLBERTALDO: Buy trees for families that lost someone. Girl Scouts did projects. Just simple cards, kindness baskets. Food, making food-- I mean, one family had food made for them, I think, for at least four months. The efforts were just limitless. There were just so many of them.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Soccer coach Tizzie Benthien was another volunteer.
TIZZIE BENTHIEN: Life is precious. You forget to savor the moment and to love your children, and your priorities can really be altered and should be altered. It's sort of like choose your battles with your kids kind of thing. Well you know what, some of those battles? Let them go.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: One year after losing her husband, Carol Wisniewski and her two children are still receiving all kinds of support from the community. When he died at 54, Paul Wisniewski was a vice president for the securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald. They relish their memories of him, how he shot baskets with 14-year-old Allie and 12-year- old Jonathan, how as a big guy at 6 foot 4 inches, he lit up a room when he walked in.
CAROL WISNIEWSKI: All right.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: So on Wednesday, the three of them are going to the Jersey shore.
CAROL WISNIEWSKI: I'm hoping it's going to be a beautiful day. We're going to sit on the beach and just think about Paul and just all the great things and bring some videos to watch of him and some pictures. We used to love to sit down and have crab dinners, so we're going to get some crabs and have a feast.
I don't want to be sad. I mean, I have two lovely children, great children I need to be here for, and we do have a choice of how we live our lives. We can wake up and we can be angry at God and angry at the world and, "why did this happen to me?" And, of course, I went through that. Or I can think about my wonderful life with my wonderful husband. He was a great man, and we had 15 years together.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Stephen Dimino was a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald. He was married to Nancy Dimino for 20 years. He was also a father to 15-year- old Sabrina.
NANCY DIMINO: When he died, the outpouring of emotion from his friends and from the industry he worked with was incredible. He was a good boss and he was a very fair boss, and they really loved him.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Dimino worked side by side with Paul Wisniewski. They were good friends who commuted to Cantor Fitzgerald every day. But their wives had never met, until September the 11th.
CAROL WISNIEWSKI: I went over to Nancy's house the day that this happened because I wanted to meet her and to see how she was and to see who she was, and we've become dear, dear friends ever since then.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: They talk almost every day. They attend a community support group at the local Catholic Church, and recently the two women left their children with friends for the first time since 9/11 to go on a cruise.
NANCY DIMINO: There's no explaining because she's in the same boat. There's something on TV that's disturbing, I expect a call. Or the next time we see each other, we could just look at each other and, "Oh, wasn't that terrible," or "how did you handle that?"
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Nancy and Sabrina continue to be grateful for the cards, letters, phone calls, food, and friendship from members of the community, but their loss is always there.
SABRINA DIMINO: I was fishing and my hook got caught, and I'm like... because I never had to take care of that before. I'm like, "where are you?" So basically, just all of him I miss. It's not just, like, one thing. Even, like, stupid stuff. Like, I'll be laying on the couch and my mom had just walked the dog and then the dog wants to go back out again. And my dad, if me and my mom were laying down, he would get up and walk the dog and now I have to get up and walk the dog.
JULIETTE STAUB: Good job!
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Like more than 100 other babies, Juliette Staub wasn't born when her father died at the World Trade Center. She came into the world two weeks after the attack, on his birthday. Thirty-year-old Craig Staub was a senior vice president of a securities firm.
SINGING: We had a moment...
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Almost every day, Stacey Staub plays a video about the life of her husband for Juliette. She is determined for the little girl to know about her father.
SINGING: We are the lucky ones...
JULIETTE STAUB: Craig was an exceptional human being. He graduated suma cum laude with a near 4.0 grade point average. He knew everything. He was humble, he was kind, he was generous. He's not just a number. He's not just 2,800 and something, you know, people died that day. He's Craig William Staub, who was only 30. He had a bright future and a child to raise.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Her house is filled with toys and blankets sent by strangers who heard about her. She has been inundated with cards and letters and support from the Basking Ridge community, but one year after the death of her husband, Stacey Staub is struggling.
STACEY STAUB: You know, it doesn't feel like a year has gone by because most of the year I spent in a fog. But at the same time, I look at my daughter and I can tell it's been a year. You know, while people are thinking, "what should I have for dinner," I'm thinking, "how do I tell my child that her father was murdered?" You know, I've aged ten years, if not more.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: And for this 32-year-old widow, 9/11 will never go away.
STACEY STAUB: My personal feeling is the anniversary is more for everyone else in the world than it is for me, because every day is September 11 for me. I don't need the anniversary to remind me. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about those towers and I don't think about my husband, and I don't think about the fact that he was murdered.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Like Carol Wisniewski and Nancy Dimino, Stacey Staub says it's her friends and neighbors that make each day less painful, and she's grateful they've helped her get through it by letting her grieve in her own way.