The sense of solidarity among Americans in the days and weeks following September 11, 2001 is something to remember and cultivate, the two speakers said on Saturday morning during the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. September by Darien.
“Something miraculous has developed from those dark days,” First Selectman Jayme Stevenson told the crowd of just over 100 gathered near the memorial behind Middlesex Middle School.
“We have come together as one community – united in care and compassion for one another and for this great nation,” she said. “The sense of love and pride for America was palpable – hope began to rise from the ashes that our nation would emerge stronger than ever.”
Terry Gaffney, chairman of the Darien Monuments and Ceremonies Commission and master of ceremonies at the event, said that at the time he called it “9/12”:
“People treated each other with kindness and compassion, even though they didn’t know each other. […] My challenge for each of us is therefore what can we do to regain this feeling, to make it move forward? What can we do that is amazing that will remind us not only of September 11, but also September 12, who we are and what we can be.
Both speakers also praised the courage of the first responders who entered the burning buildings, and Stevenson expressed his gratitude for the soldiers who died in the wars that resulted from today’s attack:
“So today, as we hold in our hearts the precious memories of our loved ones and lost friends and honor the service and sacrifice of our first responders, let us also remember that we are a nation, under God and indivisible only if we put aside our differences to defend America’s most precious blessings – freedom and justice for all. […]
“Pray for our brave soldiers who, for 20 years and until the last moment, gave their lives in the name of freedom.”
U.S. Representative Jim Himes and several state lawmakers, including State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, and State Representative Matt Blumenthal together laid a wreath next to the monument.
Two other lawmakers in the group, State Representative Terry Wood and State Senator Patricia Billie Miller embraced for a long moment of emotion in front of the placed wreath as the other lawmakers walked back into the crowd.
The ceremony was interrupted for more than 15 minutes when a member of the public had a medical emergency. An ambulance came to take the person to the hospital.
After the break, city officials and lawmakers, along with fire officials, Police Chief Donald Anderson and various youths placed long-stemmed roses against the small granite monument. This ritual is a long-standing tradition for the annual Darien ceremony.
The Darien event did not include the mention of the names of the townspeople who died at the World Trade Center that day, Gaffney told the crowd. This is in part because the ceremony is meant to help Darienites commemorate all the dead, and victims that Darien residents knew or are related to often come from other communities.
In addition, he said, people whose family members died in the attack have moved in and out of the city. A widow had requested that her husband’s name not be mentioned during the ceremony.
The town’s 9/11 monument was an initiative of a Darien ninth grade student whose goal was to create a permanent memorial for the event, Gaffney said. The student, Josh Doying, was a Boy Scout who made the task his plan as part of becoming an Eagle Scout. He raised the money and organized the creation of the monument.
Gaffney pointed out that students in Darien schools at all levels were not even born before the 2001 terrorist attack. He urged parents to bring the subject up with their children at the table.
“For them,” the students who were not yet born that day, “9/11 is a story a bit like the JFK assassination, like Hiroshima, like Pearl Harbor – it’s something they read in a story book with a photo. But do they know the stories behind the story? “
Finally, Gaffney described various things to remember about the event, including first responders rushing into buildings, towards danger, even as people rushing out of them. He noted that of the 2,977 who died that day at the World Trade Center, 412 of them were first responders, and more than 400 first responders have since died from health problems they contracted. that day or days thereafter, as many worked among the rubble at the site, searching for the remains of the victims.