Christina Stanton Shares A Different 9/11 Perspective
In a new book, the Tallahassee native recounts her experience in NYC following the attack
Christina Ray Stanton needed to get away from the devastation — the raw, up-close reminders of death, toxic dust and destruction.
She had been a New York City resident for eight years when the attacks on the World Trade Center hit so close to her home six blocks away.
The event changed the world, yet it affected those who witnessed it and lived amid the recovery in ways that the rest of us may never understand.
“I kind of went running to Momma,” Stanton said.
By Momma, she means Tallahassee.
Stanton, a Tallahassee native and Leon High graduate who still lives in Manhattan, returned to the Capital City in September to promote her new book, Out of the Shadow of 9/11: An Inspiring Tale of Escape and Transformation.
She visited old friends and gave a 9/11 presentation at area schools, where she portrayed the grim reality of that day in digestible language for children.
“Imagine you’re living in a snow globe,” she would tell children as she described the enormous smoke cloud that covered lower Manhattan after the towers fell.
On Sept. 11, the 18th anniversary of the attacks, she spoke at Midtown Reader and provided firsthand insight on that day, such as the little-recognized title as the Largest Sea Evacuation in recorded history.
“I even saw a canoe. That’s a New Yorker for ya,” she said, balancing the solemn tone with light humor.
In her book released in May, Stanton recalls the nightmarish experience of running barefoot through lower Manhattan and desperately seeking shelter.
She also discusses her physical, emotional and spiritual journey and her escape to Tallahassee, which she said “ended up being a real place of comfort.”
As a licensed NYC tour guide, she said, she noticed that much of the narrative on the 9/11 attacks seemed confined to the World Trade Center twin towers — the planes, the people inside, the first responders.
Through talks with tourists, she realized that much of the conversation on 9/11 was incomplete. It needed to include the impact on the city and its citizens.
“I was guarded, at first, about a lot of the details … but I had a fair amount of people on my tours say ‘We’ve never met anybody who it affected like it did you. You should consider writing it down,’ ” she told Tallahassee Magazine.
The reader follows the journey of Christina and her husband, Brian, in the events following the 9/11 attacks.
Snapshot moments weigh heavily as she recounts the sights of New Yorkers trying to put their lives back in order — from Broadway actors desperately asking patrons to attend their shows to residents offering emergency housing to strangers with nowhere to go.
Stanton fills in this missing narrative with her first-hand perspective.
Out of the Shadow of 9/11 widens the lens on the experiences of that day and depicts the story of her spiritual growth and how the events during the attacks and post-9/11 influenced her relationship with her faith.
“The attacks, as a result, made us a lot closer to God and a lot more committed to our faith,” said Stanton, who does missionary work in South Africa for Redeemer Presbyterian Church, for which her husband also works.
“In reality, God is with us, even in horrific circumstances.”
She describes Tallahassee as an arboreal shelter in stark contrast to metropolitan New York. Her mother still lives here, in the house where Stanton grew up.
“It was real cathartic for me to be in Tallahassee after the attacks … ,” she said in the interview.
“Even though I’ve lived in Manhattan longer than I lived in Tallahassee, Tallahassee was just very warm and comforting and lovely.”
Going to New York?
Tallahassee native Christina Ray Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been a licensed tour guide in New York City for more than 20 years and says she has provided tours for a number of people from her hometown.
“I especially love touring Tallahasseeans because I feel like we have a common denominator, and there’s a special kinship,” she says.