18 years later, Stamford remembers 9/11
STAMFORD — Residents have much to remember on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that showed the heroism and bravery of the first responders who risked their lives to help others.
“Today we remember that day, 18 years ago early in the morning, when 19 terrorists and hijackers took control of four heavily-fueled airplanes en route to California,” Mayor David Martin said Wednesday afternoon, addressing a crowd of about 30, plus more than 50 fire, police and other first responders. “For some, the memories of that day slowly fade as the years go by. Those in high school today were not even born 18 years ago. But it is a day that we all must remember.”
This year the Stamford 9/11 ceremony took place at 3 p.m. at the Fire Department Headquarters at 629 Main Street, a different venue than in previous years, but the messages of pride and honor were the same.
Rick Gillespie, a third-generation Stamford firefighter, said commemorations are invaluable help to those who are still coping.
“I hope this helps people get solace. Plenty of people are still hurting and this helps for us to come together and help each other,” Gillespie said.
On Sept. 11, 2001, coordinated terrorist attacks were carried out against the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and another airplane was downed in rural Pennsylvania. On that day, over 3,000 people were killed.
Dozens of Connecticut residents — including 10 Stamford residents — were killed.
“Every American experienced emotions reserved only for the most personal of tragedies,” Fire Chief Trevor Roach said, praising the efforts of police and first responders who were at the scene in New York City. “When a person becomes a firefighter, their act in bravery has already been accomplished.”
For Linda Lyons, it’s about honoring all those who served, whether they responded to the 9/11 attacks or not.
“Today is about respect and remembrance,” Lyons said as she clutched an orange rose in memory of her brother, Sam Van Houten, a Stamford firefighter who died in March.
A mix of Stamford residents and state and local officials congregated on the grassy lawn in front of the Fire Department Headquarters Wednesday afternoon. Attendees removed their hats as the American flag was raised, lowered and then raised again to half staff.
For almost a decade, the 9/11 memorial ceremony has taken place at Woodside Station 5 on Washington Boulevard where 8-foot steel replicas of the World Trade Center’s twin towers were erected about eight years ago.
A mold issue at that station earlier this year, however, forced staff off the premises. The station, to this date, cannot be occupied.
“Station 5 is closed temporarily because of mold issues and that personnel has been relocated,” Deputy Fire Chief Eric Lorenz said Wednesday afternoon.
Lorenz added that though it wasn’t part of the formal ceremony, a group of firefighters made plans to go the Woodside Station to illuminate the memorial there around 7 p.m.