Dona Garcia says she still cries every time she thinks about New York, because she considers it her home. She grew up there, got married there, and worked in the World Trade Center in the mid '80s. She will always have a special bond with New York.
Garcia put together a special memory book containing poems, her thoughts, and pictures she took while caught in the middle of the chaos at Ground Zero on September 11th. That morning, Garcia was taking her 11-year old daughter Jessica to see the World Trade Center. She was also there for a job interview with Morgan Stanley on the 59th floor of the South Tower.
"As we're walking in the building, we just heard this sonic boom. We never knew what it was. We just felt something shake and I turned around and you could see stuff fall on the ground," Garcia said.
Garcia quickly snapped some pictures of the terrifying moment when the first plane hit. She would later learn that some of her photos showed disturbing scenes of people, jumping or falling out of the burning buildings. She says some of the pictures are so graphic, that it's really hard for her to even look at them.
Garcia lost 37 friends in the terrorist attack, including her maid of honor, Pamela Boyce.
"I wear a memory band, and it's got Pamela's name on it and the day that she died. Her body was one of the first that was recovered at the site."
To this day, Garcia still wonders why she survived.
"Five more minutes, five more seconds, catching that first elevator going up, or if I didn't stop in the plaza, if the ferry was early, any little thing in the course of our day could have changed the fate of our family."
Garcia says the experience forever changed her life.
"I once lived in Hawaii and everyday was sunny, everyday was beautiful. You took it for granted. I know not to do that now. So, it's taught us a lot in this family, and it's brought us closer together."
Garcia's family moved to Ocean Springs at the end of September. She plans to return to New York on September 11th, for the special memorial marking the anniversary of the attacks.