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Ridgefielders honor and recall the lives lost in the towers’ fall

Tenor Bill Joyner sang America the Beautiful and God Bless America at Tuesday’s commemoration of Sept. 11. Behind him are Fire Chief Heather Burford, First Selectman Rudy Marconi and Police Chief John Roche.

Clear skies and quiet words, music and prayers, remembrance and white roses — more than 100 Ridgefielders gathered Tuesday to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001.

Eleven years since the terrorist attacks that took nearly 3,000 lives, the mood of the gathering was reflective, but not somber.

“Would you join me in a moment of silence to reflect on these loved ones, friends, people you may have known, whose lives were lost on Sept. 11…” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said towards the end of the ceremony.

And at the very end he mentioned Joseph Heller and Tyler Ugolyn, Ridgefielders who died in the falling World Trade Center towers.

“Remember them in a positive way,” Mr. Marconi said. “Remember what they enjoyed in life, the things they loved — let’s think of them that way.”

The Rev. Whitney Altopp of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church gave the opening invocation, addressing the Creator.

“We need a portion of your patience,” she said. “We need your mercy, strength, a portion of your truth so that … the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 may be redeemed.”

An honor guard of the Ridgefield Police and a color guard from the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department brought in flags and First Selectman Marconi led all gathered in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Saxophonist Molly Weeks, a Ridgefield High School senior, played The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the popular song God Bless the U.S.A.

Tenor William Joyner sang America the Beautiful.

“How do we wrap our minds around evil of this magnitude?” Pastor Dan Keaton of the Ridgefield Baptist Church said, in a reflection.

The events of that day, he said, caused some people to question their faith, feeling that “if there was a good and loving God, he wouldn’t have allowed this to happen.”

But he said “walking away from your faith in God” is not the way to understanding.

Faith holds the belief that things will get better.

“In both Hebrew and Christian scripture we have this promise God will one day right the wrongs of the world,” he said.

He told of a recently visiting the World Trade Center memorial site in New York City.

“What was once a dark, sad, chaotic place was now peaceful, hopeful and full of life,” Pastor Keaton said.

William Joyner sang again, this time God Bless America — and some among the crowd joined in towards the end.

Amid all the statistics that Americans seem addicted to, Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz of St. Mary Roman Catholic Church said in his reflection, there was one he wondered about but hadn’t seen from the government, or the political parties.

“How many terrorists still inhabit our world? Has the number increased or decreased since the twin towers collapsed more than a decade ago?

“…Is the world a safer place today than it was 11 years ago?

“Yes,” he said. “I think hope is one virtue we have to hang onto…

“We Catholics believe in a God who takes us to life, not death, to love, not hatred, to build up, not tear down,” he said, adding that he thought “most people believe in that God.”

Police Chief John Roche introduced a song he said every police officer comes to know.

Dick Aarons was among those who placed flowers by the memorial after the ceremony.

“It’s a song we play when we honor and bury our fallen,” Chief Roche said.

Piper Tom Elliott played Amazing Grace.

Mr. Marconi invited people to place white roses at the base of the town’s Sept. 11 memorial — that beam of twisted World Trade Center steel — as The Ridgefield Chorale sang Blades of Grass and Pure White Stone and then The Star-Spangled Banner.

In the closing benediction Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer of Temple Shearith Israel remembered those who died that day, including the police and firemen who gave their lives trying save others.

“Surely they are inscribed in the book of life, their memories and all that was precious to them remain in us ” he said. “…May they be at peace, and may we all say together “Amen.”

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