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September 16, 2019

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Palo Verde community remembers teacher who died in 9/11 terror attacks

9/11 Ceremony At Palo Verde

Steve Marcus

Retired teacher Gail Fahy, second left, gets a hug from Cathy Navin during an annual rededication ceremony for the Barbara G. Edwards Memorial at Palo Verde High School Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Edwards, a Palo Verde foreign language teacher, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 and died when the plane was crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.

9/11 Ceremony At Palo Verde

A portrait and flowers are displayed before an annual rededication ceremony for the Barbara G. Edwards Memorial at Palo Verde High School Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019.  Edwards, a Palo Verde foreign language teacher, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 and died when the plane was crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. Launch slideshow »

Gail Fahy rested her hand over a handprint she made years ago in the concrete at her best friend’s memorial at Palo Verde High School.

Foreign language teacher Barbara Edwards used to love watching high school soccer games, so putting her memorial next to the field seemed fitting, Fahy said.

It’s been 18 years since Edwards, 58, died on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed the plane she was on into the Pentagon, killing all 64 people on the plane and 125 people in the building.

Nearly 3,000 Americans died that day in a series of coordinated attacks that also targeted the World Trade Center in New York City.

Members of Palo Verde’s Air Force JROTC program, friends, students and staff gathered this morning at Edwards’ memorial for a flag rededication ceremony.

JROTC members stood in formation and played taps before holding a moment of silence in Edwards’ memory. The old American flag at the memorial was later presented to Fahy.

Edwards was returning from visiting friends and family in Europe and Virginia before she died. Fahy, whose birthday falls on Sept. 11, said Edwards was trying to get home in time for her birthday.

“She was supposed to fly in the weekend before, but she wanted to stay for a wedding,” Fahy said. “Then she went to see her friends in Virginia...She obviously changed her flight, because she was originally going to fly from Connecticut, I think.”

Fahy, who had been tracking Edwards’ flight, said early news reports identified the wrong flight number of the plane that hit the Pentagon. “We were relieved, and then they changed it, and it was Flight 77...It was just awful,” she said.

Fahy met Edwards while working as the foreign language department chair at Palo Verde. Edwards, who came to the United States from Germany when she was 10, helped start the German language program at the school. She was supposed to teach German full-time in the 2001 school year.

Fahy said she became fast friends with Edwards. They did everything together, and Edwards spent time with Fahy’s grandson, she said.

“She was the best friend you could have. I mean, she was there for you,” Fahy said. “I’m a singer, so she would come to my concerts.”

Fahy said Edwards was a go-to cure for bad days and could always put a smile on her face.

“She’d come into my classroom after school and just plop in one of the desks and start telling jokes. It was great,” she said.

Others described Edwards as an angel who touched the lives of her students and everyone she knew.

“I pray for Barbara, for her spirit,” said Cathy Navin, another friend of Edwards. “I didn’t sleep last night because it was all about Barbara.”