Greenwich 9/11 ceremony urges continued remembrance, resolve

People left flowers as tribute to the fallen at the town's annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony. — John Ferris Robben photo

People left flowers as tribute to the fallen at the town’s annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony. — John Ferris Robben photo

By a piece of artifact steel that was once a part of the World Trade Center, Greenwich residents gathered for the annual Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony to pay tribute to those killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The lives of the 32 people connected to Greenwich who lost their lives in the attacks were remembered as were the sacrifices of first responders who put their own lives at risk to rush to aid. This was the first time the ceremony was held in Glenville, where the piece of steel is located outside the fire house and has become a memorial in the community. Close to 200 attended the early evening ceremony where candles were lit and a memorial wreath and flowers were left as a tribute. Attendees were encouraged to bring flowers and those that didn’t simply broke small pieces off nearby trees to leave as a show of solidarity.

Even though it’s been 13 years since the attacks, Christopher Hughes, founder of the town’s September 11th Remembrance Committee and commander of the Greenwich American Legion Post 29, said he wanted the ceremony to serve as a “continued demonstration and remembrance and support” from the community, state and nation to the families that lost loved ones that day. He asked that everyone there make the remembrance a symbol that Greenwich stands with the families of those killed and would never forget their loss.

“The message of our ceremony this evening is one of remembrance, fortitude, resolve and peace,” Mr. Hughes said. “Today we mark a day where the passage of time will never diminish in importance or in the amount of pain, fear and strong emotions it holds for so many here in our community.”

Mr. Hughes said it was important for the town to keep its “focus and resolve strong” through remembering the events and the lives lost. The ceremony featured the participation of the Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy as well as other groups like the Greenwich Police Department Honor Guard and the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich Honor Guard. Mr. Hughes also noted the display of both the Flag of Honor, which contained the names of civilians killed in the attacks, and the Flag of Heroes, which listed the names of all the first responders killed, draped over empty chairs. That is an extension of an American Legion tradition in town to display the MIA/POW flag over an empty chair at Post 29 meetings to signify that they are not forgotten and Mr. Hughes said it will continue “forever and ever.”

Members of the Greenwich Police Department, Greenwich Fire Department and Greenwich Emergency Medical Services laid ceremonial tools down to pay tribute to their fallen comrades. State. Rep. Livvy Floren (R-149th) read the names of the Greenwich residents killed as a bell was rung for each name and Mary Jones from the American Red Cross lit candles in their memory right underneath the piece of steel from the World Trade Center, which was first brought to Greenwich in 2011 and has become a permanent fixture at the fire house.

“As a community we have made a commitment to remain united and to support these families and to stand and remember them, not only today, but every day, as we remember the contributions they made as individuals,” First Selectman Peter Tesei said. “This year we have embarked on a new tradition in terms of recognizing this solemn day by being here in Glenville where, through the efforts of the Glenville Volunteer Fire Company symbolic of our first responders, they have established this memorial. It gives all of us and those who visit an opportunity to not only pass by but stop and reflect and consider the events that occurred that day and, more importantly, think about those we knew who perished senselessly.”

Mr. Hughes, a Marine veteran, also asked for those in attendance to remember the troops killed in the wars that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. Current events, where U.S. military involvement is increasing in Iraq and Syria to attempt to fight the growing presence of the ISIS terrorist group there, were also noted by Mr. Tesei as he stressed the educational value of remembering the attacks.

“It’s so important, not only for us and most importantly for our those families, but for our young people, many of whom were not born in 2001 to come to understand what that tragic incident did to us as a country and, in a sense did to our world,” Mr. Tesei said. “It changed immensely and we can never forget that. I think we’re cognizant of current events and what’s taking place and it reminds us that we will never forget what happened. We will continue to remember and that united we stand we can overcome and persevere.”

Mr. Hughes echoed Mr. Tesei’s statement.

“Nothing can change the fact that they are gone but what they left behind are the great memories that will allow them to live in our hearts and our memories here in the town of Greenwich,” Mr. Hughes said.

Mr. Hughes stressed that people should never forget that the attacks were the works of evil and that lives were not just taken that day but also the country’s sense of safety at home.

“They also demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, that there is a war taking place,” Mr. Hughes said. “It’s a war of good and evil. It’s a war they are intent on continuing and spreading. The reality is that there are evil people in this world and there are radicalized religious militants out there. But the reality also is that there are great people in this world and there are nations that come together as our does to welcome people from all over the world, making one nation and one community in peace and liberty.”

 

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