SUSAN STAMBERG, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Susan Stamberg.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Each week on MORNING EDITION, we bring you excerpts from the oral history project known as StoryCorps. Friends and family members step into a recording booth and interview each other. A copy of their conversation goes to the Library of Congress.
STAMBERG: Today, a StoryCorps booth opens in New York at the site of the World Trade Center. The booth will give people touched by the September 11th attacks a chance to share stories like this one, recorded in the StoryCorps booth in Grand Central Terminal.
Mr. JOHN LEINUNG (Lost Son on 9/11): My name is John Leinung.
Mrs. ELAINE LEINUNG (Lost Son on 9/11): I'm Elaine Leinung. I'm his wife. We're here to talk about our son, Paul James Battaglia, who was killed on 9/11.
Mr. LEINUNG: His sister idolized him. Kristen, when she was a baby, she always used to save food for Paul.
Mrs. LEINUNG: Anything, she'd save for Paul.
Mr. LEINUNG: Whatever she got, she'd save a piece, save something for Paul.
Mrs. LEINUNG: And her first words were not even `Mommy' or `Daddy.' They were `bruvver.'
Mr. LEINUNG: Right.
Mrs. LEINUNG: And you couldn't yell at Paul. It was `My Paul. Leave my Paul alone.'
Mr. LEINUNG: Right.
Mrs. LEINUNG: Yes.
Mr. LEINUNG: If we were trying to scold him, she would come to his defense.
Mrs. LEINUNG: When the first plane hit, I thought maybe it was a commuter plane, and then I thought, `Oh, great. It's hit like right smack where Paul's office is. I hope to God he's not at his desk. I knew that if anything happened, the first thing Paul would do is call my dad. He was the firstborn grandson, very, very close with my father. They would go shopping together, they would go get haircuts together, and I just knew that he would call my dad and then me. And I called my dad and asked if he'd heard from Paul and he said no. And then I said, `Well, turn on the TV,' and my dad said, `Elaine, we lost him. That's right where his office is, where the plane hit.' And I called John, and I said, `I don't know what we'll do, but it looks like he's gone.'
Mr. LEINUNG: I just kept hoping that it was--because that first one had hit, you know, before 9, I just kept hoping that he was still down in the lobby or in an elevator...
Mrs. LEINUNG: No, he got there early because he had a meeting, and he left whistling that morning. He was very happy. He was going to his meeting. He was going to work. In fact, I was going to ask him to wait for me to ride the train with him, because I loved to sit next to him on the train. I loved to smell his aftershave. We had such a happy night the night before, September 10th, 2001. We were joking and laughing, and I actually was still happy when I went to sleep that night. That's the thing that got me afterwards. I had no premonition. You think that you should know that something horrible is going to happen to your child that day, and I was so happy that night, thinking that I had such a nice family, I had such a good life and I was truly blessed. And then 12 hours later, it was very different. And I'll miss him until I die.
MONTAGNE: Elaine and John Leinung of New York. A StoryCorps sound booth opens today at the site of the World Trade Center. To hear another story from September 11th, and to find out when a mobile StoryCorps booth is coming to your area, visit npr.org.