‘She lives within my heart’: Metro Detroit woman honors sister 20 years after Sept. 11 attacks

Meredith Whalen’s family honor her memory with scholarship supporting young woman following their dreams

Remembering Michigan's Sept. 11 victims

A Canton Township woman was among the more than 2,000 people killed at the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

As we mark 20 year since the attacks, Meredith Whalen’s sister shares the family’s loss and how they honor her memory.

“A friendly loving person and everyone just really gravitated towards her,” said Meredith’s sister, Kristen Whalen.

Meredith lived a lot in her 23 years but she was just getting started.

“She was very ambitious, very good with money. That’s probably why she went into finance,” Kristen Whalen said.

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A graduate of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, she worked at the World Trade Center as a research associate for Fred Alger Management. But finance was just part of her life plan.

“She was an equestrian. She had many talents, playrf the piano ... and did a lot of community service, and was very active in the in the U of M community,” her sister said. “True passions was to be able to ... own a horse farm somewhere in the Midwest or Kentucky

Meredith was working on the 93rd floor of the North Tower the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building. It was a direct hit to Meredith’s floor.

“I can’t focus on that day because her life is not about that day,” Kristen Whalen said.

Kristen has been to Ground Zero and would like to go back someday. The sisters were close, especially as they both entered their 20s.

Read: ‘He was my best friend’: Metro Detroit native remembers brother who was killed in Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

“To me, personally, I don’t see her there,” she said. “To me, she lives within in my heart and not in those spaces.”

Meredith’s family chooses to honor her memory by helping other young women chase their own dreams. The Meredith Whalen Memorial Scholarship Fund has given 17 scholarships to young women -- high school seniors in the Plymouth-Canton community

“Being able to support young talent, young minds, achieve their dreams is really important for a family,” Kristen Whalen said. “The passion and drive that she had, and the kindness. She’d go out of her way to help a stranger.

Sitting on campus at the University of Michigan is the Whalen memorial bench. The university also has a scholarship and endowment fund created in her memory.

“I really ask myself what can I do every day? How can I live my life and honor everyone who lost their lives? And what can I do to lift up everyone else?” Kristen said.

As we remember those killed on Sept. 11, Kristen hopes we do it with kindness, understanding and by listening to each other.

“One of the reasons why the event happened that day is we need to be better listeners,” she said. “Through listening comes understanding and dialogue is really important. So I think, again, small acts of kindness -- reaching out, even asking your neighbor how can I help you? -- I think that’s really important. Small things equal large things if we all do it.”

Kristen said she will take some time this year to reflect. She is hoping to make a memory book out of the keepsakes her mother has collected over the years.


About the Author:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.