Local woman who was first responder after 9/11 recalls letters of support around country

A local first responder tells the story of letters written to her and other first responders by children showing love and support after the 9/11 attacks.

For 20 years, a South Florida woman kept the letters children wrote to 9/11 first responders. They will now live on at the 9/11 museum in New York City.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Alison Thompson ran toward the towers.

“I grabbed my rollerblades and my first-aid kit and raced out the door,” she said.

As she got closer, she watched as a tower fell.

“I looked up and the World Trade Center was coming down, and i just started running,” she said.

Thompson, a former paramedic, ended up volunteering on the ground for nine months.

She would wash the soot-filled faces and eyes of firefighters.

Soon, letters from children to first responders across the country poured into the washing stations.

”Someone told me when the plane hit there was no pain and everyone was instantly carried up to heaven,” she said.

The words were adorned by firefighters and first responders, offering a sense of comfort in chaos.

“This is a very young child (saying) ‘I know how you feel, my grandma died in the building too,’” one letter said.

Some pages were filled with grief-stricken children

“My dad was a firefighter he was in the tower one when it collapsed,” another letter read.

The colorful letters are still in pristine condition.

They show how little children just wanted to make things better.

Before they were thrown out 20 years ago, Thompson saved hundreds of them.

She’s kept them all these years and they will now live on at the 9/11 museum in New York City.

“I think its special and children should know they can make a difference,” she said.

For Thompson, the children’s words are historical and should be remembered as something good in the days after.

About the Author:

Bridgette Matter joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in July 2021. Before moving to South Florida, she began her career in South Bend, Indiana and spent six years in Jacksonville as a reporter and weekend anchor.