The victims, the heroes, the falling towers — 9/11.
Ridgefielders gathered as evening fell Tuesday to remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the nearly 3,000 lives — including a half dozen Ridgefielders — taken that day 17 years ago.
The ceremony drew some 250 people — mostly residents, but including police, firefighters, town officials, clergy — to the monument made of twisted World Trade Center steel, standing in the field off Route 35.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi began by speaking of another sorrow.
“Recently we lost a wonderful member of our community, Chief John Roche, at a very young age,” he said.
Police Chief Roche died at 62, just 10 years after Police Chief Richard Ligi died at age 60, Marconi said.
Brother and sister Tommy and Molly Weeks performed a saxophones duet, making a medley of the Civil War classic Battle Hymn of the Republic and the more recent country and western hit, God Bless the USA. Marconi noted that Tommy Weeks had played at the town’s 9/11 ceremony every year since it started, and Molly had for many years — though not all of them, since she was just six in 2001.
The Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem, was sung a capella by Evelyn Carr.
The Rev. Karen Halac of the First Congregational church gave the invocation.
“Around town today I kept hearing ‘17 years, 17 years,” she said.
She recalled words of the poet Henri-Frederic Amiel: “This life is short … Be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”
She called for help.
“God, we pray you,” she said, “continue to heal the broken-hearted and dry up our wounds.”
The Ridgefield Chorale, led by Daniela Sikora, sang:
“Blades of grass and pure white stones, shelter those who’ve come and gone. Just below the emerald sod, are those who reached the arms of God…”
Then, John Lennon’s Imagine: “…Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do; nothing to kill or die for, no religion, too. Imagine all the people, living life in peace…”
Rev. Bill Pfohl of Jesse Lee Methodist Church offered the reflection.
People had gathered to honor “the victims, and those who sought to be agents of salvation, to run upstairs when all around were encouraged to run down,” he said.
Ridgefielders and people close Ridgefield were among the lives lost on 9/11: Tyler Ugolyn, a 1997 Ridgefield High School graduate newly working at the World Trade Center; Joseph Heller, a Ridgefielder and father of four who worked there; Robert Higley, husband and son-in-law of Ridgefielders, and a the World Trade Center worker; John Williamson, son of a Ridgefielder and a New York City Firefighter; Christopher Blackwell, a New York firefighter who’d previously worked in Ridgefield’s firehouse for Danbury Paramedic; Bud and Dee Flagg and Barbara Edwards, killed in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
“Stop and remember those we lost,” Rev, Pfohl said, and called to them by first names: “Tyler and Joseph, Rob and John, Christopher and Bud and Dee and Barbara…”
And then he said that he was looking forward to next month, when he will baptize Robert Higgley’s granddaughter.
He honored the firefighters and policemen who sacrificed their lives, trying to help people escape — trying to save the lives of strangers.
“Our first responders are called not only to protect and serve, but to save,” he said.
The community will not to forget that day’s horrible wrongs, he said, but should not to be “consumed” by the urge to hatred and revenge.
“We are community that is called to care, that is not only just, but civil,” he said.
Pfohl wasn’t asking people to “say everything’s OK — clearly it is not. “But, still…
“We see what we look for,” Rev Pfohl said. “If we look for villains — if that’s all we look for — that’s all we’ll see … There are also heroes.”
Pfohl urged listeners to embrace the world, try to make it better.
“We can be blessing, even in the shadow of the twisted steel,” he said.
In the annual ceremony’s now traditional close, Piper Tom Elliott played Amazing Grace, and then the Ridgefield Chorale sang a medley, as people waited in line to walk solemnly up and lay white roses at the base of the 9/11 monument, the beam of twisted steel.