CT Remembers 9/11

Memory of Woman Killed in 9/11 Lives on Through Her Voice

Melissa Harrington-Hughes left an emotional message for her husband on 9/11 that would eventually be heard around the world.

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Former Connecticut resident Melissa Harrington-Hughes died in the 9/11 attacks. But her voice lives on in a recording heard round the world.

"I just wanted to let you know I love you and I'm stuck in this building in New York," she can be heard saying on the voicemail.

Harrington-Hughes went to high school in Connecticut at Suffield Academy. She became one of the faces and voices forever connected to Sept. 11.

“It was a tough, tough day…I think about it all the time," Bob Harrington, Melissa's father, told NBC Connecticut's Kevin Nathan.

This father can still hear some of the final sounds of his daughter's voice. Harrington said it made the world fall in love with her.

Melissa Harrington-Hughes left her husband a voicemail that would eventually be heard by people around the world.

Harrington-Hughes left an emotional message for her husband on that day. Moments later, she reached her dad.

"It was Melissa and she was a little hysterical, and I didn’t know what the problem was," Harrington recalled.

It was Sept. 11, 2011. Harrington-Hughes was in New York for business. She called her dad from the 101st floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center about 10 minutes after the first plane hit.

“I said is there a lot fire? She said no, but there is a lot of smoke," Harrington said.

As they spoke, Harrington turned on the TV at his home in West Springfield, Mass. to see what was unfolding.

“I told her I love her, she told me she loves me and she said you got to do me one favor and I said what’s that? She said you gotta call Sean, because the phone's not on because it’s San Francisco."

Harrington thought his daughter would be OK and that she'd see her husband Sean again.

“I thought that being the kind of kid she was she’d get to the stairwell and she’d get out of the building, but the stairwells were all blown out where she was that’s why no one above the hit line got out of the building," Harrington said.

"When the tower went down I didn’t think there was much hope," Harrington said.

They found Harrington-Hughes' body a few days later. Her beautiful young life and successful international business career was over.

"She never looked down on anyone, she always treated everybody the same, and she basically loved everything in life and loved life itself," Harrington said.

From Suffield Academy to the six continents she visited, Harrington-Hughes left behind countless friends and memories.

"I don’t want anyone to forget what happened, how they took these lives. I mean the kid was only 31 years old. She didn’t have the pleasure of having any kids and she had been just married…” Harrington said.

Harrington-Hughes tried to reach her husband Sean at their home in San Francisco. It was early and he missed the call, so she left a voicemail.

Harrington said people around the world reacted to that message.

“She was so unselfish. She didn’t think of herself, she thought of her husband," Harrington said, adding that the world fell in love with her through her voice.

Harrington said that message made his daughter a cult hero. He says he still gets calls around Sept. 11 and holds on to notes about his daughter.

"And she cherished us and valued us unconditionally, and she said she learned that value from her mother.

Harrington said he knows of at least a few people named after his daughter.

"There's one in Germany, there's one in France. They read her story, they read what she said to her husband and they named their kids after her," Harrington said.

The birth of Harrington-Hughes' nephew was more than a tribute, it was fate.

Cooper Harrington was born on Sept. 11, exactly four years after she died.

"We figure Melissa was up there trying to get all of these kids born on Sept. 11. She did her best," Harrington said.

Harrington-Hughes is buried in West Springfield, a short drive from where she grew up. Harrington says he visits her grave two or three days a week.

Her hometown remembers her too, and all the victims of 9/11, with an eternal flame, as her eternal voice echoes.

"Basically she knew she was gonna die, and she didn't think about that she just wanted to tell her husband how much she loved him and she would love him forever."

Contact Us