MERIDEN — Local officials and first responders gathered at City Hall Tuesday morning for the city’s annual ceremony remembering the nearly 3,000 lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 17 years, and while every year on Sept. 11 we gather here at City Hall and places across the United States to say, ‘We will never forget,’ you can’t help but think life moves on. It’s been 17 years and I can’t help but think to some extent we have forgotten” Mayor Kevin Scarpati said at the ceremony.
“...We tend to forget as beautiful days have come and gone since Sept. 11, but let us not forget how our country came together in the moments, the hours, the days, the months after 9/11 and what it means to be an American… May we never forget this day and the sacrifices that were made 17 years ago.”
At the start of the ceremony, an American flag that had flown over Ground Zero was carried in by first responders and raised as the crowd saluted. Police Chief Jeffry Cossette and Fire Chief Ken Morgan were among those who, while a bell was rung, read out the times of the attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the time a plane crashed in a field in southwestern Pennsylvania.
City Councilor Bob Williams, who helps put the event on every year, said the ceremony is a time to gather and reflect on what he called “my generation’s Pearl Harbor.”
“We just can’t afford to forget and let our guard down,” Williams said.
Speakers at the ceremony included Scarpati, Morgan, City Manager Tim Coon, and state Sen. Len Suzio.
Morgan said the attacks had a widespread impact on the Meriden community.
“You can virtually probably walk through this city and talk to anybody that either knew someone that was there or knows somebody that had family that was there, so the reflection goes far beyond those that gave their lives that day,” Morgan said.
In talking about the sacrifices made on 9/11, Suzio spoke about a phone call that Tom Burnett, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, had with his wife as hijackers took over the plane with plans to fly it into the White House.
Burnett’s wife, a former flight attendant, advised him to stay quiet and not draw attention to himself, but Burnett told his wife he had to do something. He and a handful of other passengers tried to take back the plane from the hijackers before it crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all 44 people on board.
“That to me embodies the American spirit more than anything else,” Suzio said. “We’re not people that stand by idly watching things happen. We are people who have made things happen, and that’s why we have become the greatest country in the history of the entire world.”