SOUTHINGTON - Residents, community leaders, police and firefighters, veterans and active members of the military gathered at the 9/11 Memorial Monday to remember those who died 16 years ago in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Among the dozens attending the ceremony were town leaders Garry Brumback, Mark Sciota, Mike Riccio, John Barry, Dawn Miceli and Victoria Triano and several residents who knew victims of the attacks.
Among them was Jackie Koontz, whose son attended Cheshire Academy with Kevin Hannaford, who died when two hijacked jet crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.
“He was working in the Twin Towers when they got hit,” she said. “Three years ago, my son and I went to ground zero, where the names of the victims are written. It was such an eerie thing to see. I remember when it happened; it was terrible.”
Koontz said that she is glad that the community still holds the 9/11 remembrance ceremony. She called Southington a “very patriotic” community.
Town Councilor Victoria Triano recalled how, on the day after the attacks, 3,000 people gathered on the town green in solidarity.
“It was completely covered in people singing ‘God Bless America,’ ” she said.
After the playing of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes and the placing of wreaths on the memorial by retired firefighters, Roger Mathieu began the ceremony.
“We are here to share our belief in freedom, express our love and remember the firemen and policemen and citizens who lost their lives on 9/11 16 years ago,” he said. “There is so much emotion tied into this day, but we must remember to teach those who were too young to remember what happened. It isn’t pleasant; it isn’t something we like to think about, but it is brought to mind month after month with the attacks around the world, in London and Paris and more. There are many individuals bent on taking away our freedoms, but we are here to show what love and what freedom is.”
Deputy Chief Bill Palmieri of the Southington Police Department then spoke, recalling the people who lost their lives and stating that the local monument was a “solemn reminder” to never forget.
“We must take nothing for granted, appreciate our freedoms and remember that life is a fragile gift,” he said.
Brumback, who said he lost friends in the attacks on the Pentagon, said people saw “America at its finest” in the aftermath of the attacks.
“Each generation has its defining moments,” he said. “For my father’s generation, it was FDR passing. For mine, it was Kennedy’s assassination, and for the ones following, it was 9/11.”
Riccio said that he remembered hearing about the attacks and then running into a business on Queen Street to see the video on TV. He said he remembered crying at the sight.
“I’m sure that we all know someone who was affected that day,” he said. “We will be back next year and the next on into eternity. We must remember that we live in the greatest nation on Earth and that the American people know how to come together and rise above.”
Triano, who also is a pastor, referenced Scripture, telling of the Jewish people fleeing Egypt, pursued by the pharaoh’s armies and facing the Red Sea. God urged them to go forward and parted the waters, Triano said.
“God tells us to go forward in freedom, not forgetting our past, but to move ahead with courage, honor and dignity,” she continued, before leading the assembled group in singing “God Bless America.” Triano then asked God to bless everyone assembled.
The ceremony ended with the playing of the national anthem.
The two granite monuments read “Dedicated to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001” and “Dedicated to the police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel who gave their lives while aiding their fellow man on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.