September 11th, 2007 06:26 EST
Russians killed on 9/11
On the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Russian families are also mourning. Nearly 3,000 people died when four hijacked planes crashed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. At least 26 Russians were killed in the attacks.
Six years after 21-year-old Vlad Savinkin died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks his parents keep holding on to every precious memory of their only son. His clean clothes lay folded in the chest of drawers, his college diploma is proudly displayed, and a pile of his outdated mail remains sealed.
Valentina Savinkin clutches the "Dolce and Gabbana` shower gel her son last used in 2001.
"Every day I can smell my son because of this perfume," the mother says.
"He was very patient. He was very intellectual, he was very gentle," says Valeriy Savinkin remembering his son.
Vlad was 16 when his family left Odessa for what they hoped would be a safer and more prosperous life in America. Responsible and driven, he graduated from university at 21, landing an accounting position at a prestigious financial firm.
Vlad was working on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center`s North tower on September 11 when a plane crashed into the building at 8:46 AM. He was one of at least 26 Russian victims killed in the terror attacks.
"One by one, we met other families, and we realised that it was much easier to communicate with them than with any other people," Valery Savinkin confessed.
Bound by grief, sadness, and heritage, Russian immigrants who lost loved ones came together and over a period of time strangers became friends. United in the face of tragedy, this support system grew stronger, eventually forming what`s known as the "September 11 Family Group`.
"Sometimes when I`m, really ready to cry I just call someone from the families and we just talk, and it gets easier. We are so close it`s like one family. We start celebrating each others` birthdays, we get together, " said Roman Gersberg.
He lost his daughter Marina on 9/11. The Russian beauty was 25 years old, and only one week into her job at the same firm as Vlad. Although they never got the chance to know each other their fathers co-founded the "September 11 Family Group`. Each year members gather for an anniversary ceremony in the Memorial Square, which they financed and constructed. A granite plaque bears the names of 18 Russian 9/11 victims.
On Sunday Russians in mourning lit candles, shed tears, and vowed to never forget the tragic events that took place six years ago.
"It doesn`t matter how much time passes, you still have that big stone in your heart, but the only thing happens is that as time passes by is that you learn to live with this, " says Roman Gersberg.
Members of the "September 11 Family Group` say they`ve learned to live with their broken hearts. While many families were torn apart six years ago, a community came together. These Russians share a great sadness, but they also share a lifelong commitment to honour the sons, daughters, husbands and wives who died on that fateful day.
The sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has also been commemorated in Russia`s capital, Moscow.
An American Orthodox service was held at the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr in Moscow.
The service emphasised the importance of links between faiths and the healing power of religion for families of the victims of terrorism. Victims of other terror acts such as Beslan and the London bombings were also remembered.
A message from Russia`s International Affairs Minister was also read out during the service. He used the example of Beslan to show how Russia empathised with terrorism victims in the U.S.