MERIDEN — As a small crowd gathered at the City Hall courtyard Wednesday morning, few could ignore the jet flying in the blue skies overhead.
”I watched many of you look up eerily,” Mayor Kevin Scapati said. “Because 18 years ago, at a very similar time, that plane could have been heading to one of the World Trade Centers in New York City. Eighteen years later, we stand here vowing never to forget.”.
Scarpati, city officials and state lawmakers addressed a small group of about 40 people for the 18th annual remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. that killed 2,977 U.S. citizens.
The dead included hundreds of firefighters and first responders rushing into the blazing buildings. Since then, more than 200 have died from toxins they inhaled at the scene, while others continue to suffer serious health effects from exposure..
Sept. 11 is now a National Day of Mourning, marked by flags flying at half-staff from sunrise to sunset. Similar memorials were held in Southington and Wallingford.
The 19 attackers carried out their plan on Sept. 11 by hijacking four commercial airliners departing from airports in Boston, Washington D.C. and New York City, and crashing them into the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and after being overcome by passengers, in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Bells rang as Fire Chief Ken Morgan noted the time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. Another bell rang when Police Chief Jeffry Cossette announced the time of the second attack on the south tower at 9:03 a.m. A third when Hunter’s Ambulance President David Lowell announced the crash at 9:37 a.m. into the Pentagon, and when City Manager Tim Coon noted the 10:03 a.m. crash into the Pennsylvania field.
City Councilor Bob Williams has coordinated the city memorials for the past 17 years. He organized a delegation to lower Manhattan several years ago to retrieve a flag that had flown over Ground Zero. City police and firefighters raised the flag to half-staff Wednesday.
”It was presented to a delegation from the city of Meriden so we never forget,” Williams said. “We meet here this morning in remembrance. Let us never forget and thank God every day for living in the greatest country in the world and for the bravest men and women in the world, our first responders, who put their lives and liberty on the line for the betterment and safety of mankind.”
Morgan praised the sacrifice by first responders.
“We are continuing to lose lives in the aftermath,” he said. “We must continue to be grateful for the first responders every day”
Coon asked members of the crowd to honor the victims by rejecting hate in all forms..
“The men and women who lost their lives on 9/11, the fathers, the mothers, the sons and daughters, the brothers and sisters were all victims of hate,” Coon said. “We must do our damndest not to fall victim to those four letters of hate.”
State Sen. Mary Abrams joined Scarpati in asking people not to forget the country’s unity in the aftermath of terror.
“We came together as truly the strongest nation in the world,” Scarpati said. “We were one community, one nation under God.”