Tribute to a 9/11 Hero: His Joy, Courage, Resilience, and Service

Frank DeMartini: A True Hero on September 11, 2001

A 9-11 Memorial to a True American Hero 10 Years Later

A chance encounter in a Greenwich Village restaurant in August, 2001 altered the course of my life and work. My friend, Pam, introduced me to her friends—Nicole and Frank DeMartini— who were seated at a nearby table. It’s difficult to explain how it was possible that the mere hour we spent in conversation would profoundly influence the next 10 years of my life.

Have you ever met someone who makes a profound impression on you in a brief moment of time, leaving you to wonder what that was all about? Well, that was my experience of Frank. I will never forget the joyful light in his eyes, his dazzling smile. None of us knew that Frank DeMartini was destined, in a few weeks, to become an American hero.

As construction manager of the World Trade Center, Frank knew the towers. When disaster struck on September 11, he was on the 88th floor of the north tower. Within minutes, he found an intact stairway and began ushering people, including his wife, to safety. He remained to help the injured, never to escape.

For years I couldn’t shake the memory of Frank: his aliveness and his joyful radiance—often rare in this fast-paced, stressful era. I realized how revitalizing it is to be touched by another’s happiness. I spent countless hours thinking about joy—how undervalued it is—yet, how, in difficult times, it revives and empowers resilience, courage, passion, and loving kindness.

The vivid memory of Frank’s joyful spirit was like a beacon guiding me to research the science of happiness and positive psychology, to found transformational programs called JoyWorks™—consulting, seminars, and retreats—to create this blog and to write a soon-to-be-published book, Joy After Fifty: A Woman’s Guide to Passion, Purpose and Lasting Happiness. Out of the ashes, a light continues to illuminate my path. There are no words to adequately express my gratitude.

Click here to watch a  trailer of a TLC documentary about the heroism of Frank DeMartini and Pablo Ortiz.

Let’s remember how our presence and state of being affects others—in ways we may never know. Setting an intention to radiate joy and love is the greatest gift we can offer those who cross our path.

How did the tragedy of September 11, 2001 influence your life path? Please share your story of healing, hope, transformation.

With love and hope for peace on earth,


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One Response to “Tribute to a 9/11 Hero: His Joy, Courage, Resilience, and Service”

  1. Judy Loring says:

    Lovely blog Connie. Thank you for sharing.


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