9-11 Twenty Years On: Let’s Roll – 52 Ancestors #341

9-11 seems both like it happened a long time ago and that the trauma occurred just yesterday.

Two decades have passed.

That day both broke us and buoyed us as Americans. It also terrified us.

I remember, vividly, in the midst of unimaginable despair watching the bipartisan members of congress gather on the steps of the Capitol, after having been evacuated, and spontaneously breaking into song – God Bless America.

Here’s the C-Span clip.

That gave me hope.

Fear, anger, shock, and a sense of vulnerability washed over every American. We were hurt, angry and we suddenly had a new enemy that we didn’t exactly know how to identify. They had been moving among us, and suddenly, we viewed everyone as suspicious – with reason. We were under attack, caught off guard, vulnerable in a way we never imagined.

How could this happen in America?

How could anyone do this on purpose?

Why would anyone hate us this much?

Both as a nation and as individuals, we struggled to understand, to comprehend the incomprehensible, and to cope.

Personal Stories

The personal stories of the victims and their families dwarf the stories of the rest of us. Their pain, then as now, is incomprehensible. The waiting, the fear, the horror.

Yet, every American, even those far removed from danger, has that day seared into their collective consciousness.

9-11 changed lives – almost everyone’s life in one way or another.

We know exactly what we were doing, where we were, who we thought about, and how it made us reevaluate our lives. It moved all of us in different ways.

Twenty years on, two full decades, I remember sitting at a red light. On the car radio, an announcer broke into a song, saying a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I wondered how a private plane (my assumption) managed to get close enough to crash into the World Trade Center.

That seemed really odd. Probably an accident…but. I called my husband. He had already been informed by his employer and was scrambling.

When the second plane crashed into the building, I realized instantaneously that this was no accident. So did he. Various of my family members sprang into action. I wouldn’t see them again for days or weeks.

As the day unfolded, we had no idea of where the next strikes would be or how many there were. I was with government officials that day and the next – days of planning and strategizing I will never forget. Suddenly, everything was a potential target and vulnerable.

Personal Choices and Tiny Actions

We, collectively, didn’t know what to do. Flights were canceled for days. People just wanted to get home. You couldn’t rent a car for love nor money. Strangers paired up to drive cross-country. Gas was short, priced outrageously, and unavailable in some places.

“Who” was coming after us? Every car became suspicious as did any box. Were bridges going to be blown up, water supplies poisoned? We were collectively on edge.

I had family members in police and emergency services. They could well be in danger – targets more than normal. We all felt like targets, or maybe more like powerless sitting ducks.

Some people reached out to those with whom they had previously been estranged – realizing those differences really didn’t matter. That life was short and precious and might end unexpectedly at any moment.

Were we actively at war and didn’t realize it yet? Military enlistments boomed that day. Those people are eligible to retire today, assuming they survived the resulting wars.

Many people checked on loved ones and neighbors. “How are you doing? Do you need anything?”

People with family members in NYC and DC and on planes in the air were frantic.

Others served in one way or another. The heroism of police, firefighters, paramedics, and volunteers at the crash scenes are legendary.

And those heroic passengers on United Flight 93 who clearly knew they were sacrificing their lives to protect the rest of us. Todd Beamer’s “Let’s Roll” became an immediate call to action and cultural creed. The last words of a hero that inspired us all to action. But what action? We didn’t know.

I doubt those brave people on Flight 93 knew the extent of the plans of those hijackers – targeting the Capitol.

The majority of us couldn’t do much of anything, so we did what we could.

We worried, we donated, we offered shelter, and we planted flags in our yard.

We became ultra-patriots overnight.

In the hours and days that followed, we volunteered. Firefighters, construction workers, volunteers, and specially-trained dogs traveled cross-country to the crash scenes in order to save as many lives as possible, and then recover as many bodies as possible. People made and donated food and water. Everyone wanted to help, to be a part of the solution.

We were collectively in shock.

Hope didn’t die. Neither did our resolve. We would not be defeated in this undeclared war. Yet, we didn’t know how or whom to fight.

What Did I Do?

I was in the car, driving, when the first plane struck. Then the second. Then the Pentagon. Then the first tower fell. A plane crashed into the field in Pennsylvania, and the second tower fell a few minutes later. All of this in less than two unbelievable hours. I was living in a slow-motion audiobook unroll, except this was all too real. Surreal, actually.

It would get even worse, more shocking when I eventually saw the videos.

As I drove to my destination, a governmental conference a few hours away, I realized the horrific magnitude of what was occurring, although we still didn’t know the scope. Everything was still unfolding. How much more was coming? And where? Was anyone safe?

The attack could have been much more widespread and massive than it turned out to be – we had no idea and suddenly, everyone needed to prepare. I started to present my conference session after lunch, but no one was listening. We decided, instead, to have preparatory round-table sessions. That made a lot more sense. Attendees filtered in and out, watching the TVs in the lobby to see if anything else had happened. We were as nervous as that proverbial long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Cell phones were ringing like crazy.

I stopped on the drive to the conference to check on a family member in public service, law enforcement, and a firefighter. I left a personal message, just in case. We didn’t know what was coming, how widespread whatever was happening would be, or who would be affected. Were there coordinated attacks planned in cities and towns across the nation?

Earlier that morning, everyone expected to see their loved ones again too – and thousands never would.

A shortened, uncertain version of “forever” was staring every American in the face.

I spent the next couple of days working with municipalities. Multiple family members were involved in various ways.

On my way home, you couldn’t find flags anyplace. I finally located a few and purchased a handful of small flags, about a foot tall and lined them up along the curb in my yard. That seemed so inconsequential in the face of a massive problem, but God Bless America just the same.

I wanted to volunteer on the scenes, but by that time, they had enough volunteers and I settled for working with local authorities. I made “doggie booties” to protect the feet of the search and rescue dogs along with “care quilts” for the victims’ families. I mailed them to organizations for distribution as needed. I have no idea who received those quilts, but I hope they brought the recipients some modicum of comfort – just knowing that some unknown person, someplace, cared.

Processing the Trauma

Quilters began doing what quilters do. We process many things, good and bad, through the act of quilting.

Exhibits occurred in many places around the country, including in New York today. Many quilts honored the victims and expressed hope. Others, grief.

I made a trauma quilt too. Well, sort of.

I’m sure you recognize this image, that iconic skeletal grid standing after the attack.

I cut the black pieces of fabric and ironed them to the background. The edges are raw and in some cases, “sharp.”

The background is smoky red.

Fire

Pain

Heat

Anger

Desolation

Overwhelming Grief

I was going to hand quilt an outline of the eagle crying, another iconic image of that day, in the blank space to the right.

But I never did.

This piece, as is, still hangs on the wall of my quilt studio, held in place with pins – not beautifully finished and bound like a piece of art. Just hanging there.

For a long time, I felt it was unfinished, no batting, no backing, no quilting. Just the small “top,” as you see it, hung with inelegant straight pins.

I felt guilty for not finishing it, but just this past week, I realized – it is finished.

It’s not beautiful or completed in a traditional way. It’s raw, the edges unsewn, incomplete – but it conveys, exactly as it is – everything that needs to be said.

Some things are never finished.

Some wounds never heal.

Life is short, uncertain, raw, and sharp.

It’s brutal and we bleed.

Nothing is guaranteed.

Sometimes life blows up in our face.

Or someone blows it up.

Today

I look around, taking stock today – of the raging pandemic and this country. We’re not fighting an external enemy anymore, but fighting those demons of hatred, burning just as hot and even more dangerously – within our own population and our borders.

We can’t recognize this enemy today either, because it’s us – the people who live on our street and in our community – and the hatred that has been slowly fueled and bred in the last two decades.

Hatred, that’s our enemy now – as it was then. But in 2001 we identified the enemy as the foreign terrorist organization Isis and its leaders who recruited and radicalized people willing to die to damage us. It wasn’t “us” back then, it was “them.”

I so desperately want our congressional representatives and elected officials to stand on the Capitol steps and sing together again, and to put the horrific bipartisan backstabbing that is destroying this country aside. We desperately need to heal, not be driven further apart until we literally view our neighbors as the enemy.

The increased and increasing violence and threats of violence tell that story.

Those terrorists tried to destroy us 20 years ago. They failed. Did the fear and undirected hatred emanating from those attacks plant the seeds of what is happening today?

They don’t need to attack us directly again. In fact, that would probably unify us. They certainly don’t want that. Right now, we are destroying ourselves. All they have to do is wait.

We can, we must, do better – or we, as a country, will not survive. They will have indirectly won.

We have work to do.

Let’s roll.

Paint Your Way Up Your Tree with MyHeritage, AutoClusters and DNAPainter – Free Webtember Webinar

Legacy Family Tree Webinars is sponsoring a free Webtember genealogy conference for everyone. Last week, 7 speakers presented, including my session, titled “Paint Your Way Up Your Tree with MyHeritage and DNAPainter.”

You can watch all 7 sessions free, here, for the full month of September – um – I mean Webtember😊. By the way, they have closed captions too.

You can download the syllabus with a paid membership and watch any of the 1500+ videos anytime. Click here to join and be sure to enter the coupon code, webtember, to receive a 15% discount!

Webtember Webinars

On the main Webtember page, you can sign up to view the sessions live each week for free.

Recorded sessions will be available later in the day on Fridays all month. You can read about Webtember, here.

Last Friday, we had people from 52 countries in attendance, including a few new cousins I didn’t know I had. How fun is that!!!

What can you learn from my session?

Paint Your Way Up Your Tree with MyHeritage and DNAPainter

We are so fortunate to have wonderful vendors and outstanding third-party tools. My session focused on how to turn your AutoCluster at MyHeritage into a beautifully painted chromosome map at DNAPainter.

While your genetic artwork is beautiful, that’s not the point. AutoClusters are a shortcut to identifying groups of people who match you and each other and therefore share a common ancestor.

I’ve developed a technique to utilize your close matches at MyHeritage, and your clusters, together, to identify ancestral groups at DNAPainter.

Each AutoCluster file contains about 100 of your matches in colorful groups.

This technique works for both beginners who have never done chromosome painting before, as well as people who paint regularly.

I’ve broken this technique down into easy step-by-step instructions for both novices and experienced DNAPainting artisans.

At the end, I show an example of how I leapfrogged from 3 to 7 generations back in time using these tools. I was able to identify segments that descended from Philip Jacob Miller and his wife Magdalena whose surname is unknown.

I know that segment either had to descend to all of us from either Philip Jacob or Magdalena. If it descended through him, then I should be able to find matches on that same segment from Philip’s brother’s descendants too. If that segment doesn’t descend from Philip, then I won’t match any of his relatives (except his children’s descendants) on that segment.

If that segment descends from Magdalena, maybe I can figure out her parent’s names by evaluating the trees of people who match me and these other people. In other words, I need to look for people who triangulate, on this or other common segments between this group of matches and share common ancestors in their trees. Fortunately, MyHeritage offers triangulation.

I’m oh-so-close, just oh-so-close to revealing Magdalena’s surname.

Do you have mysteries you’d like to solve?

Maybe painting your way up your tree using the AutoCluster Tool at MyHeritage, combined with DNAPainter and triangulation will help you break through your brick walls.

If you haven’t yet tested at MyHeritage or uploaded your results from another vendor to MyHeritage, you can purchase a test here or I’ve provided easy instructions for uploading your results from another vendor, here. If you’re ready to upload, click here to get started.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

Genealogy Research

Free Webinar: 10 Ways to Find Your Native American Ancestor Using Y, Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA

I recorded 10 Ways to Find Your Native American Ancestor Using Y, Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Webinars are free for the first week. After that, you’ll need a subscription.

If you subscribe to Legacy Family Tree, here, you’ll also receive the downloadable 24-page syllabus and you can watch any of the 1500+ webinars available at Legacy Family Tree Webinars anytime.

In 10 Ways to Find Your Native American Ancestor Using Y, Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA, I covered the following features and how to use them for your genealogy:

  • Ethnicity – why it works and why it sometimes doesn’t
  • Ethnicity – how it works
  • Your Chromosomes – Mom and Dad
  • Ethnicity at AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage DNA
  • Genetic Communities at AncestryDNA
  • Genetic Groups at MyHeritage DNA
  • Painted ethnicity segments at 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA
  • Painting ethnicity segments at DNAPainter – and why you want to
  • Shared ethnicity segments with your matches at AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage DNA
  • Downloading matches and segment files
  • Techniques to pinpoint Native Ancestors in your tree
  • Y DNA, Native ancestors and haplogroups
  • Mitochondrial DNA, Native ancestors and haplogroups
  • Creating a plan to find your Native ancestor
  • Strategies for finding test candidates
  • Your Ancestor DNA Pedigree Chart
  • Success!!!

If you haven’t yet tested at or uploaded your DNA to both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage, you can find upload/download instructions, here, so that you can take advantage of the unique tools at all vendors.

Hope you enjoy the webinar and find those elusive ancestors!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

Genealogy Research

FamilyTreeDNA’s Chromosome Painting Just Arrived!!!

FamilyTreeDNA’s long-anticipated chromosome painting for ethnicity results just arrived!

Videos and a White Paper!

Along with the release, Family TreeDNA has also provided several resources.

Dr. Paul Maier, Population Geneticist at FamilyTreeDNA created a three-part video series that explains MyOrigins V3 and the science behind the results – in normal language that air-breathing humans can understand. These are absolutely wonderful and only about 10 minutes each, so be sure to watch – in order!

MyOrigins 3.0 white paper that explains the science in more detail is here! If nothing else, at least skim and look at the pictures. It’s actually an amazing document.

Your Painted Results

To view your results, sign on to your account and click on Chromosome Painting!

Click on any image to enlarge

There it is – your beautiful new painted chromosomes with your Continental or Super Population results painted on your chromosomes!

Look, there are my AmerIndian segments, in pink.

What Can I Do?

You can download your segment file too – in the upper right-hand corner.

You can also download your segment match file found under the chromosome browser tab and sort your segments to see who matches you on these segments. I provided instructions, here.

Of course, you’ll see both sides, meaning paternal and maternal matches, so it will be necessary to determine on which “side” your segments of interest originate, and who matches you on that side of your tree.

We will discuss these strategies and how to implement them in future articles.

A little birdie tells me that DNAPainter will have an import soon so you can upload your chromosome painting file to integrate with your match painting.

Right now, just viewing and appreciating your chromosome art that represents our ancestors is amazing. Did you find any surprises? Who else wants to print and frame this?

If you don’t have results at FamilyTreeDNA, you can upload DNA results from the other three major testing companies and pay a $19 unlock to receive your very own chromosome painting. Upload/Download instructions are found here.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

Genealogy Research

DNA Beginnings: How Many DNA Matches Do I Have?

People often want to know how many DNA matches they have.

Sounds simple, right?

At some vendors, the answer to this question is easy to find, and at others, not so much.

How do you locate this information at each of the four major vendors?

What else do you need to know?

I’ve written handy step-by-step instructions for each company!

Matches at FamilyTreeDNA

Sign on at FamilyTreeDNA and under autosomal results, click on Family Finder Matches.

At the top of the next page, you’ll see your total number of matches along with matches that FamilyTreeDNA has been able to assign maternally or paternally based on creating/uploading a tree and linking known matches to that tree in their proper place.

Your parents do NOT need to have tested for the maternal/paternal bucketing functionality, but you DO need to identify some relatives and link their tests to their place in your tree. It’s that easy. Instructions for linking can be found in the “Linking Matches on Your Tree” section of this article (click here), along with information about how that helps you, or here.

Obviously, if your parents have tested, that’s the best scenario. For people who don’t have that option, FamilyTreeDNA is the ONLY vendor that offers this type of feature if your parents have NOT tested.

At FamilyTreeDNA, I have 7313 total matches of which 3169 are paternal, 1402 are maternal and 6 are related to both parents.

Hint – your siblings, their children, your children, grandchildren, etc. will be related to you on both your paternal and maternal sides.

If you don’t have an autosomal DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA, you can upload one from Ancestry, 23andMe, or MyHeritage for free. Click here for instructions.

Matches at MyHeritage

At MyHeritage, sign on and click on DNA, then DNA Matches.

At the top of your matches page, you’ll see your total number of matches.

At MyHeritage, I have 14,082 matches.

Matches are not broken down maternally and paternally automatically, but I can filter my matches in a wide variety of ways, including shared matches with either parent if they have tested, or other relatives.

If you don’t have an autosomal DNA test at MyHeritage, you can transfer one from Ancestry, 23andMe, or FamilyTreeDNA for free. Click here to begin your upload to MyHeritage.

Click here for instructions about how to download a copy of your DNA file from other vendors.

Matches at Ancestry

At Ancestry, sign on and click on DNA, then DNA Matches.

On your matches page, at the top, you’ll see a number of function widgets. Look for “Shared DNA.”

Click the down arrow to expand the Shared DNA box and you’ll see the total number of matches, along with the breakdown between 4th cousins or closer and distant matches.

Sometimes the number of matches doesn’t show up which means Ancestry’s servers are too busy to calculate the number of matches. Refresh your screen or try again in a few minutes. This happens often to me and always makes me question my sanity:)

I have 53,435 matches at Ancestry, of which 4,102 are estimated to be 4th cousins or closer and 49,333 are more distant.

For close matches only, if your parents have tested at Ancestry, when possible, Ancestry tells you on each match if that person is associated with your father’s side or your mother’s side.

You can’t upload DNA files from other vendors to Ancestry, but you can download a copy of your DNA file from Ancestry and upload to either FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage. Click here for instructions.

You can also download a copy of your tree from Ancestry and upload it to either of those vendors, along with your DNA file for best results.

Matches at 23andMe

23andMe functions differently from the other vendors. They set a hard limit on the number of matches you receive.

That maximum number differs based on the test version you took and if you pay for a membership subscription that provides enhanced medical information along with advanced filters and the ability to have a maximum of 5000 matches.

In order to purchase the membership subscription, you need to take their most current V5 test. If you tested with an earlier product, you will need to repurchase, retest or upgrade your current test which means you’ll need to spit in the vial again.

Please note the words, “up to 5000 relatives,” in the 23andMe verbiage. They also say that’s “over 3 times what you get” with their test without a subscription.

23andMe handles things differently from any other vendor in the industry. They made changes recently which created quite a stir because they removed some capabilities from existing customers and made those functions part of their subscription model. You can read about that here and here.

The match limit on the current 23andMe V5 test, WITHOUT the subscription, is 1500. If you tested previously on earlier kits, V2-V4, 23andMe has reinstated your prior maximum match limit which was 2000.

So, here’s the maximum match summary for 23andMe:

  • Earlier kits (V2-V4) – 2000 maximum matches
  • Current V5 kit with no subscription – 1500 maximum matches
  • Current V5 kit with subscription – 5000 maximum matches

Except, that’s NOT the number of matches you’ll actually see.

23andMe handles matching differently too.

23andMe matches you with their other customers up to your maximum, whatever that is, then subtracts the people who have not opted-in to genealogy matching. Remember, 23andMe focuses on health, not genealogy, so not all of their customers want matching.

Therefore, you’ll NEVER see your total number of allowed matches, which is why 23andMe cleverly says you “get access to up to 5000 relatives.”

Let’s look at my V4 test at 23andMe. Sign on and click on Ancestry, then DNA Relatives. (Please note, Ancestry is not Ancestry the company, but at 23andMe means genealogy results as opposed to medical/health results.)

At the top of your DNA Relatives page, you’ll see your total number of matches, before any sorting filters are applied.

23andMe does not automatically assign matches maternally or paternally, but if your parents have tested AND opt-in to matching, then you can filter by people who also match either parent.

I have 1796 matches at 23andMe, which means that 204 or 11% of my matches have not opted-in to matching.

You can’t upload DNA files from other vendors to 23andMe, but you can download a copy of your DNA file from 23andMe and upload to either FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage where you will assuredly receive more matches. Click here for instructions.

Summary

Each vendor has its own unique set of features and operates differently. It’s not so much the number of matches you have, but if you have the RIGHT match to break through a particular brick wall or provide you with a previously unknown photo of a cherished family member.

I encourage everyone to fish in all 4 of these ponds by testing or uploading your DNA. Uploading and matching are both free. Advanced tools require a small one-time unlock fee, but it’s significantly less than testing again. You can find step-by-step instructions to walk you through the process, here.

Have fun!!!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Books

Genealogy Research