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Remembering local victims of 9/11 terrorist attacks

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - For relatives of the 9/11 victims, Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the day their world came to a halt. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York came crumbling down in the unforgettable terrorist attack.

“It’s as real today as it was to us then,” said Susan Grimm, mother of 9/11 victim Leo Russel Keene III. “I know there is people out there that don’t understand the pain that we are going through, but it’s real, and it hasn’t changed a bit in 20 years.”

Thousands of lives were taken on September 11th, 2001, including Keene’s, who was a Southwest Louisiana native.

In an emotional interview, Keene’s mother says time can’t heal all wounds.

“That’s really the saddest part about it. You live it everyday. There is no closer,” Grimm said.

Grimm relives the day. As she explains, her family watched the chaos unfold on TV.

“We immediately turned on the TV and started watching, and we watched it through when his tower fell,” Grimm said.

Her son was at work at the time of the attack. She says he nearly made it out of the tower alive before it collapsed, saving two of his coworkers’ lives. It wasn’t until Jan. 13 that his body was discovered under the rubble and debris.

“He almost got out of the Trade Center. He was a hero. That’s one of the things my girls remember, too. He saved two of the women he was working for,” Grimm said.

Keene’s family, especially the daughter he leaves behind, were everything to him. As the years pass, Keene’s family takes the time to honor him in the best way they can.

“When we get together, we cook the things he liked and talk about him and remember the good person he was. He loved his family. It was so important to him,” Grimm said.

Although this a wound that will never heal, Grimm finds comfort in her guardian angel.

“I try to live my live with Russ right there beside me because he really is still by me,” Grimm said.

Navy Petty Officer, Kevin Yokum was a Lake Charles native who also lost his life on 9/11. He died when a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon.

Both Keene’s and Yokum’s names are on a piece of limestone from the Pentagon at the 9/11 memorial at the Lakefront.

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