Utah family remembers lessons learned from 9/11 tragedy

Sep 9, 2021, 3:53 PM | Updated: 3:55 pm

KAYSVILLE, Utah — Utahns who lost two family members on 9/11 say the lessons learned back then are needed now more than ever as the 20th anniversary of the attacks approaches.

The Wahlstroms say monuments, like this one in Kaysville, are so important in helping us never forget. They say the lessons that made us stronger back then seem to be drifting away, 20 years later.


The fireman, watching over the city, protecting the younger generations — the Wahlstroms said some of this monument’s symbols of the lessons learned need to be passed on.

“Especially my own kids that weren’t here,” said Mallory Wahlstrom Wright. “They don’t know what that was like. In the 20 years since 9/11 happened, I feel like we’ve never been more divided now, in 2021, and it is heartbreaking of the unity that my mom said we all felt.”

Wright still misses her aunt, Carolyn Beug, who worked at Disney Studios making music videos, and her grandmother, Mary Alice Wahlstrom.

Mary Alice Wahlstrom and Carolyn Beug.

“It’s unbelievable that it can still bring me to tears 20 years later,” she said. “I named my daughter after her — my daughter is named Alice.”

Wright’s mother, Margaret Wahlstrom, said she also feels the loss of her mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

“They were people that truly gave to society, in so many big ways,” she said. “In the flash of a moment, they were gone, and it left ripples all over the place.”

Beug and Mary Wahlstrom were lost in an instant, as the plane they were in crashed into the north tower.

But it’s what happened in the months and years after that has left an impression on this family.

Margaret Wahlstrom and Mallory Wahlstrom Wright. (KSL TV)

“I mean everybody was supportive, and everything was positive, and they were building and they were rebuilding,” Margaret Wahlstrom said.

Wright, who was 12 at the time, said our nation came out stronger.

“The lesson to remember is that Sept. 11 didn’t just happen to our family or to the 2,000, nearly 3,000 people who lost family — Sept. 11 happened to America,” she said.

They said while it was hard for them to see hate in the attacks and in the following days after from Al-Qaeda.

“Right after 9/11, a lot of reporters asked us if we hated the terrorists, and that was the furthest thing from our mind,” Wahlstrom said. “We found that we couldn’t hate.”

Bringing us to why this 20th anniversary seems so heavy to them, in a time when Americans are so divided.

“I’m so sad to see the hate that’s in the world these days and the negativity and the tearing down, instead of building up,” Wahlstrom said.

They said we’ve been better as a nation, and we can do it again.

“I’ve seen the strength and unity of America after 9/11,” Wright said. “I saw it come together and I saw us love each other through that, and for years and years it felt like we were getting stronger, and so that’s why I feel like the 20th anniversary is heavier, because it feels like we lost sight of that, and we need to remember, remember that unity, and look to where we’re the same and unify, instead of attacking where we’re different.”

“I think there is power in remembering, and there is power in teaching,” she added.

The Wahlstroms, especially Margaret, have shared their story many times over the past couple of decades. While they said it’s still painful, they believe it’s important to keep talking about their experience and those lessons learned.

“Things have fallen down. Things are bad. Things are painful. Things are hurtful, but we can rebuild and we can move forward with hope and promise for the future,” she said.

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Utah family remembers lessons learned from 9/11 tragedy