Remembering the Hanson Family Garden

Peter Burton Hanson and his wife Sue Kim Hanson pose for a photo with their toddler-age daughter outside their home in Massachusetts.
Peter Burton Hanson with his wife, Sue Kim Hanson, and their daughter, Christine Lee Hanson, outside their home in Massachusetts. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum.

For Peter and Sue Hanson, giving their two-year-old daughter Christine an idyllic, rural upbringing was a priority.

Though Peter and Sue both worked in Boston – Peter for an Internet firm, Sue as a doctoral candidate and senior research technician at Boston University – the family had moved from the city to Groton, Mass., and set about putting down roots. Literally.

Peter was an ambitious gardener, planting not just lilacs and roses, but trees as well – at least 30, according to Eunice, his mother. A bright and busy toddler, Christine could often be found helping her father in the family garden. She was known to talk to the flowers and trees they planted together.

Peter’s father, Lee, admired the Hansons’ pastoral life, and he recalled his last visit with his son’s family in an interview with StoryCorps.

“When I got to the house, they were busy planting some trees and bushes and so forth. Peter had become quite a horticulturalist. He liked plants and trees. And his wife helped him out on that, and little Christine did too. I had a chance to see them that day. And I remember when it was time for us to go home, I was reading a story to Christine and everyone else was outside waiting to say goodbye. And I finished the story, and I put Christine down, and she ran in front of me to go to the front of the house. And I said, ‘You know, Christine, I love you.’ She said, ‘I love you too, Papa.’ And I said, ‘Aren’t we lucky that we have each other to love?’ And she broke into a big smile, put her arms—spread her arms out, and did a happy dance.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, husband and wife Peter and Sue Hanson left their Massachusetts home and boarded Flight 175 with their daughter Christine. The family was on their way to California for a trip to Disneyland and to visit family. The youngest of the eight children who were killed on 9/11, it was Christine’s first time on an airplane.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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