Portrait photo of Sara Micciulli ’23 smiling and looking away with crossed arms in a brown sweater
Photos: Emily Paine
Support from fellow students has been uplifting for Sara Micciulli ’23.
Shining a Light on 9/11
Classmates rally to buoy victim’s daughter on a most difficult day
by Sherri Kimmel
The anniversary of 9/11 is for many Americans a time for somber memories. Sara Micciulli ’23, however, recalls nothing about that day. She was only 9 months old. But the nation’s most deadly terrorist attack had a devastating impact on her life. Her 30-year-old father, William, a rising star and senior vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald, was working on the 104th floor of One World Trade Center when a plane plowed into the tower, the first struck that day.

Each year, Micciulli and her sister, who was 2 on the day their father died, marked the anniversary together. Some years, they’d head to the 9/11 Memorial with friends who’d also lost a parent. In 2012, Micciulli read her father’s name as well as those of nine other victims in front of hundreds of people during the annual remembrance ceremony at the World Trade Center site.

Spending her first 9/11 away from her family, in 2019, was a daunting thought. When the day came, Micciulli was surprised to hear a knock on her door at 8 a.m. It was a classmate who’d heard her say during New Student Orientation that her dad had died on 9/11.

“He gave me a big hug and said, ‘I’m here for you today. We can go to lunch. Anything you need, I’m here.’ It was really amazing, such a positive thing. I was really expecting it to be a pretty tough day, that I would be alone,” Micciulli recalls. “I immediately called my mom.”

“My friends made sure they came down and hung out, even days prior, because it’s always a tough week. I knew they had my back.”
For the 2020 anniversary, she was surrounded by even more love. “My two roommates bought me flowers and gave me handwritten notes,” she says. “My friends made sure they came down and hung out, even days prior, because it’s always a tough week. I knew they had my back.”

Now Micciulli faces the 20th anniversary in what has been another very difficult year — a bout with COVID-19 left her quite ill in December, and the virus took her maternal grandfather shortly thereafter. He’s buried in the same mausoleum as her dad and fraternal grandparents.

This anniversary, she may be at home, since it falls on a Saturday. But before 9/11, there’s the annual June golf tournament that her father’s high school friends hold in his memory. She’ll bask in the stories they’ll tell about the man she only knows from pictures: “They always tell me I have Dad’s looks 100%. I’ll be having a conversation with somebody, and they’ll say, ‘That expression. That was your dad’s face right there.’ It’s a great compliment.”