SOUTHOLD, NY — Ellie Alloway was not even born yet when the nightmare of 9/11 unfolded, when the world stopped in the face of the worst act of terrorism ever witnessed on American soil. But Ellie, a junior at Southold-Junior Senior High School, is on a mission to record first-person accounts of 9/11 so the day will be remembered for generations to. come.
Ellie is a Girl Scout from Troop 94 in Southold; she and her troop members have been Scouts together since kindergarten, her mom and Troop 94 Leader Nicole Alloway said. She is working on collecting the testimony from 9/11 survivors for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
Ellie has been a Girl Scout for 11 years and is currently an Ambassador-level Scout; she has already earned her Bronze and Silver Awards, plus completed an additional set of badge prerequisites before deciding to seek her Gold Award, Alloway said.
“The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award given nationally to Girl Scouts; a Scout is required to submit a detailed project plan to the national organization, and then must pass an interview before a project is approved. Only a project with a sustainable impact on a Scout’s community will be considered, Alloway said.
“Ellie has participated in the Southold Town’s 9/11 Memorial since she was a very young girl, helping the town committee to hand out the 2,977 flags that is our tradition,” Alloway said. “Plus, she has heard stories about 9/11 all her life: her uncle had to walk out of downtown Manhattan to Brooklyn that day.”
Ellie’s mother’s college friend was killed, as was her uncle’s first girlfriend.
As she grew older, Ellie said she has enjoyed filmmaking as a hobby, getting her first video camera and equipment when she was 10.
But, Ellie said, it was a field trip to the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center in Glen Cove where her life was changed, after she heard, live, the first-person story of a survivor. That experience, she said, “drove home the importance of recording first person testimony of tragic but significant events, so that these terrible things will never be forgotten or denied.”
For her Gold Award Project, Ellie is seeking interview and record the first person testimony of survivors of 9/11, including those who were first responders, or who worked on the “Pile”, but who are also from the North Fork, she said.
She hopes to create a website database of the video testimony, as well as trying to condense some stories into a documentary which represents the North Fork’s experience of 9/11.
Working with the town memorial committee, the American Legion, and the Town of Southold Fire Chief’s Council, she is planning on presenting her film at next year’s memorial, the 20th anniversary.
“I’m beyond proud that my daughter would choose such a challenging and emotional project. We have spoken already about how intense some of these interviews could be, but she is strong and ready to take on the task,” Alloway said.
North Fork residents who are interested in telling their stories should contact Ellie at [email protected] or PO Box 1413 Southold NY 11971.