Palm Springs, CA
Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on September 11th during the 9/11 terrorist attacks but one woman was from Palm Springs. Barbara Keating was aboard American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles when her plane was taken over by hijackers. 16 years later, her friend Bette King still remembers the fateful day like it was yesterday.
A Lemon tree planted at the entrance of Canyon Sands in Palm Springs is forever a reminder to King about how fruitful her friendship with Keating was.
"I think it’s important to have her legacy live on," said King.
King tells KMIR News that Keating spent her summers in Boston visiting friends and family. The summer of 2001 was no different.
"Usually never came back until the end of September, beginning of October," she said.
Because of family troubles on the west coast, Keating jumped on that American Airlines Flight 11 flight out of Boston that Tuesday morning. Shortly after take-off, terror took over the skies.
"What was it like, what were their last moments, what was the chaotic scene, it’s kind of a mystery," said King.
The plane she was on circled above the New York City skyline, inching its way closer and closer to the ground, until it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
"It was a little shocking and a little bit of disbelief," she said.
Word of the tragedy in New York City quickly spread to the West coast and then to Palm Springs. Around noon is when King says she got word that Keating was on that doomed flight. Still in shock, King and others planted a tiny lemon tree to keep Keating’s memory around for decades…
"As years have past, many of our neighbors have passed away or moved away, and there’s many new people here," said King.
Every year on the anniversary of Keating’s death at 4:30 p.m., residents gather. Some don’t even know who Barbara is but they quickly realize, her impact on this small community is forever engraved.
"Just focus on her life, the good times, the good things, I think that’s what gets everybody through a tragedy of any sort," said King.