A Tribute to Mayra Valdes-Rodriguez – A 9/11 hero!

D.C. Roe at 2996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11 is again sponsoring a drive to have as many people as possible write tributes to the people who died on 9/11/2001 to celebrate the anniversary of that terrible day in our American History five years ago. I signed up and my name assignment was for Mayra Valdes-Rodriquez.

As I searched Mayra’s memorial tributes, I was amazed at her heroism on that day five years ago. It was a great honor for me to write my tribute to Mayra. She was an amazing young woman. I hope her son and family are well. I hope I have done justice to her memory.  Now, please read my tribute to Mayra. Please leave comments of support for her family.


Mayra Valdes-Rodriquez

There were many heroes in the attacks on the Twin towers on September 11, 2001. We all know about the heroism of the New York Police Department and the New York Fire Department. We all know about the tragic deaths of men from both those departments as they rushed to save lives in those two towering infernos. We all know about the heroic battle waged by the building fire marshal to save the lives of all the people in both Towers. We all know about his dedicated efforts to prepare the workers in both Towers for the inevitable “next attack” he knew was coming after the first terrorist bombing in 1993. We all know how he had fire wardens assigned throughout both Towers and made practice drills until reacting to an emergency was second nature to everyone working in both buildings. A fact that saved many lives!

We all know how he died making sure that all people were safely evacuated, refusing to leave until the last person was safely out of the buildings. Our hearts break again as we think about that horrible day and look at the images of the total devastation caused by an unprovoked terrorists’ attack on our nation, as we remember all who perished that day.

What few of us hear about was the untold courage of the every day people within the offices who were volunteer fire wardens who risked their lives on that fateful day to carry out that role. One such hero was Mayra Valdes-Rodriquez. Mayra worked on the 103rd floor of the South Tower for AON Risk Services. Inc.. Each warden was issued a whistle, a hat, and a flashlight. Several people reported seeing Mayra on that fateful day, flashlight and whistle in hand making sure everyone was safely evacuated from the 103rd floor. Later, co-workers reported seeing Mayra on the 78th floor. She was still making sure others made it to safety from the burning building in which she worked. Those co-workers all made it out safely. Mayra died in that Tower doing what she had been trained to do, ushering people safely from the building.

So, who was Mayra Valdes-Rodriquez? What kind of person was she? What made her stay behind saving lives instead of leaving the Tower that day as rapidly as possible to save her own life? She could have easily left that whistle, hat, and flashlight where they lay before the attacks on the Towers. She could have marched right out her office doors to the nearest elevator or stairway, and safely made her way out of her building as hundreds of others did that fateful day and no one would have ever known. But, she didn’t! Why? Why did an ordinary young and vibrant woman give her life so that others might be saved? I can’t answer that question. I don’t know if anyone else can either. But I do know that Mayra was a very well liked or loved person by all who came into contact with her according to all the messages left at Memorial sites to honor all who died in those Towers that day.

Mayra was a fun loving person who always had a smile for everyone. The tributes to her repeatedly talked about how she was vibrant and brought a smile to the faces of others, even those who were having a bad day. Those who paid her tribute talked about how much she liked to go to Cancun. They talked about how much she loved to dance, especially the Salsa. They talked about how she played in the band as a school girl. They talked about how she was such a good girl and had a great intellect. They wrote about her quiet and kind spirit. How she was one of those rare people who always seemed to be content with who she was instead of trying to be who she was not! They wrote about her infectious laugh, her love of bowling, visits to Disney World, and shows at Madison Square Garden.

However, of all the tributes and praise for Mayra, a seventeen year employee of AON Risk Services, Inc., there is one continuous thread that kept coming up about Mayra, her love for her then twelve years old son, Elias. From all accounts I have read in my study of all I could find on Mayra for my tribute to her on this, the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers by terrorists, none was more evident than the fact that Mayra Valdes-Rodriquez was a mother, first and foremost. She dedicated her life to making sure her son was loved. She made sure he had a good home and was safe and secure. She made sure he had a good education. She did all she could do to ensure that Elias was brought up with good standards and had the opportunity for making choices in his life. She made sure that Elias was happy. From what I could discern about Mayra, she did all this as a single parent.

I don’t know if Elias was ever told his mother was a hero that day. I am sure that as a twelve year old boy, he really could have cared less at the time since he had just lost his Mom. But maybe now that he is seventeen years old, it may give him some comfort to know why his Mom died that day five years ago. Maybe he can derive some solace knowing what a hero his Mom really was and how she died so that others might live.

Rest in peace, Mayra Valdes-Rodriquez! Know that you died as you lived, with grace and dignity. Know that you left behind a memorial in every life you saved that day. You will never be forgotten. Know that in your beautiful son, Elias, you also live on in his heart too as you live on in ours!

Thank you, Myra!

May we never forget any of the people who died on 9/11/2001 in any of the terrorist attack locations. May we never forget those who gave their lives trying to rescue those in immediate danger as a result off those attacks. God Bless their families.


~ by devildog6771 on September 10, 2006.

9 Responses to “A Tribute to Mayra Valdes-Rodriguez – A 9/11 hero!”

  1. Mayra was one of my BFFs, a sister. We were called the M&M girls. I just read your article and I applaud you. You did her justice. Your research was so thorough and you described her so well. She was an amazing, beautiful, caring, honest, religious person. She is truly missed and loved by many. To those that lost her, it still hurts like if it was yesterday. Thank you for your great article of my beloved Mayra. Sincerely, Maria.

  2. I knew Mayra as my sister-in-law and you described her perfectly. Always withe a ready laugh and smile. Never letting anything get her down. You did a great job in your article and I applaud you! Thank you.

    • I thank you for your remarks and offer my sincee condeonlences for your loss. I am pleased y post did her justice. May God be with you and yours on 9/11.

  3. Elias is my very close friend, and after meeting him in college 3 years ago and getting to know him, today i am proud to call him my brother. Me and Elias always talk about Ms.Mayra with the utmost respect and love. Although i never knew Mayra i can tell she was an angelic person in all aspects, and after reading this i know i am not wrong. She will continue to be in our conversations and heart. She will never be forgotten. Her grace and bravery will remain unmatched forever. May she rest and be with god. I promise her that i will try to be a good influence in Elias’ life, and veer him into the right track if he ever looses sight of things. We love you Ms. Mayra. Thanks DEVILDOG, bless you.

  4. Thank you all. Flaggazer, I tried to post on your blog but was refused??

  5. These are the stories that should be on the front pages of newspapers – the people who live the best of what America is. Thank you for sharing her beautiful story.

    We lost so many beautiful souls that day.

    I invite all to read about Major Dwayne Williams who was lost at the Pentagon.

  6. It amazes me as I read these tributes just how much these people did for their fellow human beings. It just goes to show you just how precious every life is.

    My person was Richard Catarelli.

  7. Thank you Yankeemom. I was very surprised to find out how she died. I have no doubt she would have survived had she not continued to usher people out of that building.

  8. Thank you DD, for letting us get to know this special woman. A beautiful honoring for a true hero.

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