Public urged never to forget those who lost lives in attacks, aftermath in West Haven 9/11 ceremony
More than 100 people packed the Savin Rock Conference Center Tuesday night, Sept. 11, as speakers spoke of unity, patriotism and, above all, heroism at the city’s observance of the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“The vast majority of us can recall exactly where we were that morning, who we were with and what we were doing when we heard the first news reports that a plane had struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center,” Mayor Nancy Rossi told the crowd.
“Sept. 11, 2001, was a day that changed our lives — never forget,” she told the people who assembled indoors after the threat of rain prompted the city to move what originally was to be a flag-raising ceremony indoors from Bradley Point Park..
“Never forget the nearly 3,00 people who died that day, including Richard S. Gabrielle from West Haven, the 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers who died in the World Trade Center and on the ground in New York City,” Rossi said. “Never forget the 55 military personnel who died in the Pentagon and the 6,000 people injured.”
Rossi and West Haven Fire Department Chief James O’Brien both said people should never forget the first responders who have been afflicted with cancer — and the thousands more who must be monitored — as a result of their exposure to cancer-causing agents at and around Ground Zero.
Rossi specifically mentioned Trooper 1st Class Walter Green of the Connecticut State Police, a former lance corporal in the Marines, who died of a rare cancer May 31 after he and his police dog were sent in to search through the rubble in the wake of the attacks.
Other speakers included Victor Borras of Gateway Christian Fellowship, who said a rememberance prayer, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, Deputy Police Chief Joseph Perno and master of ceremonies Louis Esposito, Rossi’s executive assistant.
The ceremony also featured Nora Mullins singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America,” Liz McNicholl singing “America The Beautiful,” “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “The Bravest,” the New Haven County Firefighters Emerald Society Pipes & Drums performing “Amazing Grace” and Kevin McKeon, retired West Shore firefighter, playing taps.
Immediately afterward, Rossi and DeLauro placed a wreath at the Richard S. Gabrielle Sept. 11 Memorial just outside the conference center along the city’s shorefront walkway.
DeLauro recalled the unity in the days immediately following the attacks, and said, “Let us always stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors, with our countrymen” and remember that on that bleakest of all days, “villain was met with valor and hate with hope.”
Perno also asked people to remember “how we came together ... If only we could hold on to these emotions and build on them” in our daily lives.” He also pointed out that “the effects of that day are still being felt.”
O’Brien said that while the numbers of first responders who died on Sept. 11 is a staggering figure, it is pale in comparison to the more than 2,500 regular people “that went to work that day” and never came home.”