WBUR Oral History Project: Christie Coombs
Interviewed by: Joanna Shea O'Brien
Date:January 28, 2014
Recorder: Joanna Shea O'Brien
Photo: Christie Coombs (left) and Team Runner Chelsie Kane (right). (Photo by Meg Coombs)
Christie Coombs is a freelance journalist, the Founder and President of the Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation, and serves on the Board for the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund (MMHF) and the American Red Cross Blood Services. Christie’s husband Jeffrey Coombs died on September 11th, 2001 on American Airlines Flight 11. In this extensive oral history interview, Coombs recounts the day he died, how she told her children, and how her family and the Abington, MA community supported her in the days and weeks that followed. Because the Coombs family was showered with cards, meals, gifts, tickets to concerts and sporting events in the aftermath of September 11th, she and her children decided to pay it forward by hosting a yard sale for non-traditional 9/11 families who had not received as much support, including gay couples, immigrant families, and adult children of 9/11 victims. Their first event was a yard sale and auction that raised $50,000, and that effort evolved into the Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation, which continues to raise and donate money to people in need affected by any adverse circumstances as well as provide scholarships for Abington students. Since its founding, the foundation has raised more than $350,000. Christie also hosts an annual Christmas party at Gillette Stadium (in Foxboro, MA) for the families of Massachusetts soldiers deployed overseas in the fight against terrorism, as well as for families whose soldier had died while serving
Christie was at the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15th, 2013 to support the runners for her charity as well as runners for the MMHF when the bombs detonated. She describes the first and second explosions and thinking it might be a terrorist attack, but she dismissed that as ridiculous, until she remembered her family was already victim to terrorist attacks on American soil. She helped a police officer pull down the barricade as he was ordering people to get out of the chute area at the finish line. She describes her efforts to reconnect with her daughter, Meg, who had separated from her only a half hour before near the finish line.
Christie also discusses her efforts to help families who were victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, talking to them about how to get through the holidays, the difficulty in making sure that the terrorist attack and the victims are not forgotten yet still memorialized in an appropriate reflective way as well as her friendship with Carlos Arredondo and other marathon families.
Audio Clip 1
Christie describes being at the finish line when the bombings occured.
Audio Clip 2
Christie describes the impact on her children of experiencing a second terrorist attack, and their efforts to reach out to the families directly affected by the bombings in the aftermath.
Audio Clip 3
Christie describes the morning of September 11th as she awaits news from American Airlines confirming whether or not her husband Jeff was on Flight 11, one of the planes that was flown into the World Trade Center by terrorists.
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