Highlighting Stories of Love in the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s Oral Histories

Margaret and John Iskyan pose outside for a photo in their wedding outfits.
Margaret and John F. Iskyan. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, donated by Margaret Iskyan, wife of John F. Iskyan.

The oral histories collected by 9/11 Memorial Museum span the range of the whole human experience. These stories of bravery and loss, endurance and suffering and life and death often have one element in common: love. Familial love, the platonic love of friends and coworkers, the selfless love that would cause someone to give their life for a stranger. There are also tales of romantic love. These are five such stories, as recalled by people who lost their partner on Sept. 11, 2001.

Margaret Iskyan on Meeting Her Future Husband, John Iskyan, While Students in College

We met, he had a nickname, it was ‘Whiskey.’ And it came not from drinking, but it came from his last name, Iskyan. And his father had a plane, and that was his call, was whiskey. But he did drink whiskey. We met out and about, and we became friends. He had long hair and one day he cut his hair off, and I was like, ‘Hmmm, he’s kind of cute.’ I had a party, it was Valentine’s Day. And we had a party in our dorm and we could invite two people. And I invited John to come. There was a fire alarm in the middle of it, and we went outside to the quad, and that’s where we kissed for the very first time… Such a Valentine’s Day story, right?

—As remembered by Margaret Iskyan

Laurie Spampinato Remembers Her First Valentine’s Day with Her Husband, Donald F. Spampinato Jr.

I have three boys who mirror him and remind me every day of why I fell in love with him as quickly as I did—so much like him in very subtle ways. Because that’s what he was, he was so subtle in everything he did. He was never over the top. Our first Valentine’s Day, we went to Goldberg’s Pizza, and he said, ‘Well, then you know what we’ll do? We’ll go ice skating at Wollman Rink.’ And when we met in the city he shows up with this beat-up canvas bag—what could he possibly have in the beat-up canvas bag? He had his ice skates in there. Because I didn’t know that he played hockey and was this unbelievable ice skater. I mean, he got on the ice, and it was unbelievable. And I can skate, but that, to me, summed up who he was. He never said, ‘Oh, I play hockey, and I still play, and I’m tough, and I can skate really well.’ Nope, never a word—never a word.

—As remembered by Laurie Spampinato

Melody and LeRoy W. Homer Jr. and their daughter, Laurel. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, donated by Marilyn Johnson, sister of LeRoy W. Homer Jr.

Melodie Homer Remembers Her Husband LeRoy W. Homer Jr.

LeRoy is just very romantic. You know when you watch romantic comedies and they seem so contrived? Like, he would make me breakfast in bed for no reason. He would go on a trip and write me a postcard and I’d get it like a week and a half later, but I mean, he was just a gentleman. He was just, you know, the most wonderful person to be married to. He could make the simplest things like really special, like I remember one day when I first moved to New Jersey, it was raining, but it was in the summer. It was nice and warm, and we had a porch and he would say ‘Come out here on the porch.’ And we went out on the porch and he brought a bottle of wine and we just watched the rain. Or I’d come home from working 12 hours at seven o’clock at night, and you know, the fireplace is going and all of the candles are lit and he made dinner. And for just a day of the week, you know, he would do that.

—As recalled by Melodie HomerElaine and Frank V. Moccia Sr. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, donated by Frank Vincent Moccia, son of Frank V. Moccia Sr.

Elaine “Cookie” Moccia Recalls Her Husband Frank V. Moccia Sr.

I met my husband in June of ’69. His friend was going out with my friend, and they would say, ‘Oh come on Cook, you’ve got to meet Frank.’ I said, ‘No, leave me alone I’m okay.’ So they tricked us, and they introduced us. And when I first met him, I wasn’t too crazy about him. And I told my girlfriend Angela, ‘Don’t bother, he’s not my type.’ But then she says, ‘Okay, we’re going to go bowling next weekend, you want to come?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, that will be nice.’ So I went, and who turned up, but Frank. So I looked at her. Well, that night I fell in love with him. We started joking around, and I liked it. Just the way he spoke, and looked, you know. I said, ‘Hmm, there’s a possibility here.’ He grew up in Williamsburg and I grew up in Long Island City and when he asked me to marry him he said, ‘Okay Cookie, I’m going to bring you to a better place.’ And he brought me right across the [Kosciusko] Bridge, to Williamsburg. I liked it, it was nice.

—As remembered by his wife, Elaine MocciaShirley and Francisco Alberto Liriano. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, donated by Seelochini (Shirley) Somwaru Liriano, wife of Francisco Alberto Liriano.

Shirley Liriano Fondly Looks Back on Her Husband Francisco Alberto Liriano

With my job, I used to travel once a month. As it happens every time I would come up the elevator, that’s the time he would leave for work, because I always came back in the morning. And he would laugh and say, ‘See, I knew you were coming. That’s why I was waiting up here for you.’ With his briefcase waiting to go to work. I said, ‘Oh okay, you’re always wait for me.’ I know he was leaving.

Always when I traveled I’d come back and there would be a bouquet of flowers, with a little note, ‘I love you, I miss you, and I’ll see you later.’ Normally he would get home at seven, but those days I come back, I traveled, he would always come home by 3:30, 4 o’clock. And he would call, ‘Don’t buy food, don’t cook, I’ll buy something and bring it home so you don’t have to cook. You just go and sleep and I’ll see you later.’ He was always like that. He was good, liked to give, he wasn’t one of those guys that don’t do little things. He did all the little things.

—As remembered by Shirley Liriano

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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