For anyone old enough to remember September 11, 2001, the tragic events of that day are forever etched in our memories. Four planes, three buildings in New York and Washington, D.C.; one field in Pennsylvania. All told, nearly 3,000 lives were lost that day, including 343 firemen.
Ten years later, the , along with town dignitaries, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the VFW and American Legion, chose to honor those lives lost.
At 6:45 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the attack on America, nearly 200 town residents, including First Selectman Maurice Blanchette and former First Selectman Michael Stupinski, gathered for a somber ceremony on the Ellington Town Green.
The ceremony included renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America,” a bell ceremony, 343 small American flags and hundreds of luminaria lining half of the town's green.
“Those represent the 343 firefighters who lost their lives 10 years ago,” said EVFD Fire Chief Michael Varney.
After , Ellington's recent contestant on American Idol, sang the National Anthem, Pastor Russell Buisch from the gave the benediction and spoke of the significance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the connection to Sept. 11, 2001, as firefighters raised the flag at Ground Zero.
“Ten years ago, we were shocked at the evil...the death of nearly 3,000 citizens who showed up for an average day of work,” Buisch said. “We pray for your blessing and to honor those who died, especially those who gave their lives for their countrymen.”
“9-11 is on my mind, as I'm sure it is on yours this time of year, more so this year,” said Varney, adding many more lives could have been lost that day, had it not been for the brave first responders who ran into the buildings, while most people were trying to get out.
State Representative Christopher Davis (R-Ellington) presented a proclamation from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, declaring Sept. 11, 2011 as “Honor our Heroes in Remembrance Day.”
“This anniversary is not only an opportunity to mourn, but to reflect and grow,” Davis read from the proclamation.
Morgan, 7, held her American flag tightly in her hands as she sat atop her father Gary Frye's shoulders during the ceremony. Morgan wasn't here to remember the actual day, but she understands some of the significance of one of our country's darkest days.
“It's sad, because people died and the songs they sang were kind of sad,” she said, referring to the 10 year anniversary ceremony and the relevance of Sept. 11, 2001.
Morgan's mother, Donna Frye, said everyone she has spoken to remembers instantly where they were and what they were doing when they heard what was happening. Donna was at work and thought when she heard about the first plane, that it was a fluke. Then the second plane hit and it was clearly not a fluke. We were under attack.
“All I wanted to do was go get Jake and get home,” she said, of her son, who was one at the time. So she did.
Alessandra Lundberg was also at work that morning when a co-worker heard what had happened on CNN. They all tried to get on CNN.com to find out what was happening and eventually crowded around a TV at work to watch as events continued to unfold.
“I remember like it was yesterday,” she said. “We were mesmerized. It was very hard to work that day.”
Lundberg's daughter Kristen was only 15 months old at the time. Like Frye, Lundberg went and picked her baby up and headed for the safety of her home.
“[My husband and I] just sat in front of the TV that night,” said Lundberg. “We were new to the neighborhood at the time. We looked out across our back deck and saw a few neighbors lighting candles on their porches.”
Varney said while he understands the need to move on for healing purposes, what happened that day 10 years ago should never be forgotten.
“Never forget, but I feel that is already starting to happen,” he said, as the bell tolled as a sign of respect and honor for fallen firefighters. “Please, never forget.”