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As we observe the ninth anniversary of September 11 let us not forget the loved ones we lost. It’s important to remember that their spirits are still with us and as long as we remember that, they will never die. So today, on this day of service and remembrance we cherish and share with you 9 lives that were taken on 9/11 who were not giving the chance to live up to their full potential. These are the young people of our generation that if they had been giving that chance to live up to their full potential, they just might have changed the world forever.

Today we not only remember those who lost their lives in the towers but all who sacrificed their own lives to save the lives of others during those frantic hours before and after.  September 11 isn’t about mourning; it’s about being inspired by the heroism and selflessness that all Americans displayed in the wake of this tragedy. To the first responders who rushed without hesitation to help those in need, to the young men and women who chose to join our Armed Forces following the attacks these tragic events united Americans in a remarkable spirit of solidarity and compassion. Today we shouldn’t let that solidarity and compassion leave us, let’s keep it with us and not only bring it out on September 11.

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Thomas J. Ashton was attending St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY, with a major in Political Science until May of that year when he announced to his family that he was leaving college to become an electrician.

As an electrician in training Sept. 10 was Ashton’s first day at electricians’ school. On his second day on the job working as an apprentice with Local 3 in Manhattan, Ashton was sent to the 95th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower to work alongside another electrician, and that’s where he was when the first plane hit. At the time of his death Ashton was 21 years old.

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Marlyn C. Garcia, 21, was a strong willed, open minded and tough young woman who would always stand up to the those who wanted to bring her down. When Garcia was 14 years old, a guy in the neighborhood offered her a marijuana cigarette. As she was pressured to partake in a smoke, the man towered over her small frame but Marlyn Garcia was not scared. ‘She smacked the guy’, her elder sister Ingrid recalled. ‘She was like, ‘This is how you say no to drugs.’ ‘ See, no matter how big or tough, Marlyn was better.

Garcia graduated valedictorian of her class at the Bay Ridge Christian Academy and was offered a scholarship to Syracuse University but instead of going off to upstate New York, Garcia decided to stay close to the family.

She enrolled instead at John Jay College and every morning, she arrived at work at the 101st-floor offices of Marsh & McLennan a half-hour early, so she could leave in time for school. It is young people like Garcia with the desire and drive that inspire, that challenge, that show us our goals are in reach if strive for them hard enough. Marlyn C. Garcia you are remembered today.

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Vanessa Lynn Kolpak was a modern day renaissance woman, economics, philosophy and theater were all subjected to her mind. Vanessa’s early education was at Queen of All Saints and the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She attended St. Ignatius College Prep and graduated Magna Cum Laude from George