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YOUNGSTOWN Mother's 9/11 essay published



Published: Sat, September 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The book is available locally at Barnes and Noble.

By SHERRI L. SHAULIS

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- L. Mae Hochstetler had moved back to the Youngstown area from Philadelphia in 2000.

"I was feeling a little dejected," she said. "You know the feeling, when you make it to the 'big city,' you really don't want to come back."

But on Sept. 11 last year, Hochstetler said she was never so happy not to be on the East Coast.

That sense of relief was short-lived, however, when it came to explaining to her four small children what happened.

Though she and her husband, Marcus, made a conscious effort not to let the children -- 5-year-old Matthew, 4-year-old Joshua and Joy and 2-year-old Hope -- see the images of planes crashing into buildings, Matthew, who was 4 at the time, did see the buildings collapse.

"He asked me what happened, and I told him some bad guys hit the building," Hochstetler said. "I had to use 'superhero' language to help him understand.

"He wanted to know if a lot of mommies and daddies 'got died,'" she continued. "I had to explain to him that yes, they did."

The experiences and emotions Hochstetler had the next several days -- trying to find a way to cope with what she witnessed, combined with trying to keep her children informed without scaring them -- found themselves worked into her writing.

What she wrote

A free-lance writer of fiction and nonfiction, Hochstetler penned "Better Than Superman," an essay that appears in "911: The Day America Cried ... A Collection of poems, letters and stories on an American tragedy." The book, compiled by Victoria Walker and published by Obadiah Press, was released nationwide Friday.

Hochstetler became involved in the project through Mom Writers, a national support network of more than 1,000 mother-authors.

I was totally thrilled that the piece was accepted," Hochstetler said. "Many of these women are my mentors, and I am published here with them."

In "Better Than Superman," Hochstetler depicts how she and her husband worked to explain the events of Sept. 11 to their children, while making specific mention of her hometown heroes in Youngstown: The firefighters of No. 9 Sheridan Fire station, which is located down the road from her home.

Though the station now faces temporary closings because of budget cuts in the city, Hochstetler said she and her children often drive past the station, looking to see if their firefighters are there.

"My kids always look for the sign they are inside," she said.

A graduate of Canfield High School, Hochstetler also graduated from Ashland University. She serves as the at-large board member of the Northeastern Ohio Synodical Women's Organizations of the Lutheran Church and is a contributing writer to The Dawn, the group's newsletter.

"911: The Day America Cried" is available for $17.95 from Amazon.com, direct from the publisher by calling toll-free (866) 536-3167 or from local bookstores, including Barnes and Noble.

All proceeds from the book benefit the Todd M. Beamer Foundation, a nonprofit organization named after the 32-year-old Beamer who was aboard United Airlines Flight 93 and was one of the passengers who tried to regain control of the hijacked plane that eventually crashed near Shanksville, Pa.




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