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A survivor’s burden

Louise Rogers wears the pain of a nation on her skin.

A patchwork of flesh tones pattern her body, the skin taut in certain spots like her knuckles, where healing is difficult.

“My scars are still pretty strong,” she said. “They will take over pretty quickly.”

Ms. Rogers was standing at a fax machine when the plane hit the Pentagon. It was her second day on the job as an accountant for the budget office of the Department of the Army.

“Some people ask [what happened] and ‘Do you mind?’ ” Ms. Rogers said. “I’ll say no, I’ll tell you. I’ve gotten to be very open about it.”

Before Ms. Rogers could escape, she sustained serious burns to 70 percent of her body. She spent years in grueling rehabilitation and lost her ears and fingers, despite dozens of surgeries.

In 2006, her 35-year marriage officially ended. The next year, she returned to upstate New York where she had worked at an Air Force base in the late 1980s.

“The only thing that drew me back here was my daughter and grandkids,” Ms. Rogers said.

Her days are spent seeing doctors, running errands in a car fitted with a prosthetic device and pitching in for family, which includes a new great-granddaughter.

Ms. Rogers has two home health aides to help her throughout the week, but the past 10 years have taught her to be more independent, as 20 pairs of kitchen tongs spread throughout her house to help her grab things demonstrate.

“I use a Kindle, an iPhone, an iPad,” she said. “I just want a better life for myself.”

Though Ms. Rogers is in a different place from where she was 10 years ago, she thinks improvements still can be made.

“I’ve always been kind of a ‘we’ person, not an ‘I’ person,” she said. “I could do more. I try to travel, try to do things I couldn’t do before.”

Ms. Rogers and her mother, Ardis, took a second trip to Alaska in July. She will be in Hawaii with her son for Thanksgiving.

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