Through tragedy comes treasure

Photos by Anthony Coelho Irene (l.) and Jennifer Greenhalgh and their 9/11 display.
Photos by Anthony Coelho
Irene (l.) and Jennifer Greenhalgh and their 9/11 display.



By Anthony Coelho

Observer Intern

September 11 is a date that will ring an unpleasant bell in anyone’s ear. But last Wednesday, I realized something else about that date, that although those horrific events—that I pray we never have to witness again—are a constant reminder of what kind of evils lurk in this world, they also let us know that through loss and tragedy, comes hope and opportunity.

We received a call at the office at around 12:30 p.m. about a house located at 11 Harding Ave. in North Arlington that featured a wonderful display of memorabilia, dedicated to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and even Shanksville, Pa., where the plane that was intended to hit Washington, had fell short.

I made my way over to the area and immediately saw what the anonymous caller had mentioned. The whole front lawn was decorated with an array of small American flags that were laid out so when viewed aerially, presented the shape of the Pentagon with the two Twin Towers inside it. On the front steps of the home sat picture frames, children’s books, and antiques all paying homage to the Towers as well.

I sat down with the homeowner, Irene Greenhalgh, on the front porch and she explained to me what it was like on that day in 2001.

“I knew we were under attack as soon as the first plane hit. I went and woke up my daughter right away.”

Irene’s husband, Donald Greenhalgh, was working for a delivery company at the time and had been in New York the day prior to the attacks.

“We called his company line over and over and couldn’t get through. We called his cell phone and still couldn’t reach him.” Mrs. Greenhalgh stated. “Finally, after a few hours, his company got back to us and thank God he wasn’t in the city.”

Mrs. Greenhalgh then introduced me to her daughter, Jennifer Greenhalgh, who used to work in Jersey City, and happened to be the mastermind behind the art show out front.

“I realized that it could’ve been my dad, and it could’ve even been me!” said Jennifer, “It gives you a sense of empathy, you know.”

Jennifer happens to suffer from cerebral palsy, which is a congenital condition that causes physical constraint in body movement.

“I never let it stop me from my arts and crafts. I love to make things by hand, it’s my passion.”

Jennifer does this every year on September 11. She sees it as a symbol for the community, as a way to show appreciation for those who suffered loss, and to further educate the younger students who tend to pass by the house on their walk home from school. She continues to inspire everyone she touches including me, and is a symbol herself, of hope, perseverance, and light.

“I plan on making a quilt dedicated to the tragedies of 9/11,” Jennifer said, “I’ve been saving up so much stuff from yard sales and eBay, I think I’m just about ready.”

She currently has a quilt hanging in the North Arlington Public Library, celebrating its centennial anniversary, as well as some antiques being sold on

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