Diane M. Simmons
Hometown: Great Falls, Va., USA
Occupation: Xerox retiree
Location: Passenger, American Flight 77, Pentagon
"When I was cleaning out the house, I found a huge box in back of one of the closets, filled with Christmas cards, report cards from Diane's two sons, every note that George had ever given Diane, every little note from the grandkids. There were so many things. This note is about two years old. I kept it just to remind me what their relationship was all about: love each other; love your family; be true to yourself, be good to your friends, and be good to your dog. We didn't feel right in throwing everything away. So, over at my brother-in-law's house last winter, we had a fire and put the rest of it in there. It was tough. It was lots of laughing, lots of crying." --Donna Long, daughter-in-law
In her retirement from the Leesburg Xerox offices, Diane Simmons loved to travel. On Sept. 11, she and her husband, George, boarded a flight at Dulles International Airport headed for Los Angeles, the first leg of a journey to Hawaii, where Simmons planned to spread her father's ashes alongside her mother's.
For almost seven years, Simmons helped take care of her father, William J. Helm, a retired military man, during his stay at a Sterling nursing home. He died in May, and Simmons volunteered to go the island of Kauai ahead of the rest of the family.
She and her husband, a charismatic manager of sales training who also retired recently from the Xerox training center in Leesburg, were among the passengers killed on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon.
They had been married 19 years.
-- Graeme Zielinski
Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com
The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.
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A day after the 9/11 attacks a makeshift memorial was created on the Arlington Memorial Cemetery fence. Seven years later, the first 9/11 memorial is opening.