Twice earlier this week, we gathered together as a community to remember and honor all those who died during the horrific terrorist attacks 18 years ago. Both gatherings, the one in Cos Cob Park and the other at the Glenville Fire House, were poignant, solemn and respectful. They serve as touchstones to a time of raw emotion and hurt.
Nearly 3,000 people died that day in the attacks. Of them, 32 lived in or had direct ties to Greenwich. Their names are forever etched on the glass at the Cos Cob 9/11 Memorial. As you look at them, the letters of their names spell words such as, “Love,” “Courage,” “Freedom,” “Forever,” and “Liberty.”
As their names were read aloud on Wednesday, we honored their memories. As a community we embraced their loved ones. We were reminded on the poem, “Evangeline” written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“Silently, one by one, in the infinite
meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the
forget-me-nots of the angels.”
Even though 18 years have passed, time does not diminish the the loss of our loved ones, or the effect on our community.
September 11, 2001 was the deadliest terrorist attack ever, and the largest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Because it occurred in the age of 24-hour news coverage and the internet, the tragedy was not only felt in New York, Arlington, and Shanksville. The horror and grief were experienced all over the world.
The anniversary of September 11th reopens that wound ever year. However, it also reaffirms. It reaffirms the awe and respect we have in our first responders. And, it honors those rescue and recovery workers whose sacrifice and dedication paved the way to rebuilding. Of the 2,977 who died that day, over 400 were first responders and military personnel, performing their sworn duty. These individuals voluntarily choose a profession where their job is to run into a burning building, chase a criminal not knowing if he has a weapon and stand watch protecting our country.
Our community is relatively safe. Violent crimes and massive fires rarely occur here, but they do happen often elsewhere, and, again, because of the news coverage and internet we feel the pain of those horrific acts. Our first responders, however, must be prepared for any type of incident and so they train. They train diligently and continuously until they become the competent experts we need and expect them to be. And, because of this they are often asked to help train first responders in other communities.
We rarely see our first responders in action and that is a good thing. When we see them at a parade or police open-house we are always amazed by the amount of equipment they have and the diversity of its potential use. Plan and prepare they must.
This week we saw them silently honor their fallen comrades from September 11th. It was a stark reminder of all they do to protect our community from harm, and we are grateful.
As we settle into an early fall weekend, we are humbled by our community coming together once again to remember and honor those we lost 18 years ago, our “forget-me-nots of the angels.” As we do so, we pause to reflect on the meanings of words on the Cos Cob 9/11 Memorial that are woven through the names: “Love,” “Courage,” “Freedom,” “Forever,” and “Liberty.”