Jillian Suarez was 9 years old when her father NYPD officer Ramon Suarez gave his life saving others on Sept. 11, 2001. Nearly 10 years later, Jillian Suarez, at the age of 18 and planning to follow in her father’s footsteps by becoming a NYPD officer, sat down with her mother Carmen Suarez to learn more about her father. Below are excerpts from the interview, which were recorded for the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s oral history collection.
Carmen Suarez: Well, Jillian, what would you like me to tell you about your father?
Jillian Suarez: How was he when you first met him?
Carmen Suarez: He was absolutely wonderful. First, his name was Ramon Suarez. He was a New York City police officer. And on [Sept. 11], he was at his regular post and he decided to – he heard the chaos on the radio and he hailed a cab and [then] ran to the World Trade Center to help everyone. As far as [being] your dad, he was the love of my life. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful husband. And as you know, he was a wonderful dad because he loved you very much.
Carmen Suarez: When [Ramon] walked into a room he would light up the room because he had this beautiful smile. And his dimples were like, ‘Wow.’ I instantly fell in love with him when I first met him, when I first saw that smile.
I remember when I realized that I was pregnant and I was like, “Oh my god, that is the greatest gift of all.” I prayed and I asked god to please give me a little girl with his smile and his dimples. And I got that little girl with his smile and his dimples.
I remember the love in his eyes when he laid eyes on you. When he saw you, when he saw his little baby, he said, “Wow, she looks like me.” When I saw [his] smile light up I was like, “You’re right, she looks exactly like you.” And you do. You look exactly like your dad.
Carmen Suarez: Your father was a hero and he saved so many lives. And for that, I am grateful for having him in my life for the years that I had him. There are families out there who will have their children for a very long time because my husband gave his life to save others.
And that’s what we need to remember. That he didn’t die in vain. He did what he loved to do. He loved helping people. And that was his job, to help others…So, we have to remember, that yes we had him for a short time, but he’s going to live in our hearts forever. And just remember, that he loved us very, very much.
Carmen Suarez: Is there anything you want to ask mom? Anything else?
Jillian Suarez: I chose my career because of him. I mean, I did it because of him. I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Like mommy said, I’m just like him. If people need me, I’ll drop anything. I don’t care what it is. I guess I’m just following in his footsteps and I didn’t notice it until now.
Carmen Suarez: And your father would be very proud of you because he always saw the very best in you. And he always knew that his daughter was going to grow up to be someone so exceptional and beautiful. And you are. And I see that in you. I see so much of him in you.
By 9/11 Memorial Staff