Editorial: Remembering those who were lost
“To remember and honor those who were lost, those who responded, and those who carry on,” reads the public invitation to the Town of Ridgefield’s commemoration of the losses from the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.
The well chosen words honor 2,977 victims of the terrorist attacks — a number that excludes the 19 terrorists who were also killed that day, after hijacking four airplanes and using them to bring about the tragic events. Two planes were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, bringing down the 110-story twin towers. A shocking 2,763 people were killed at the World Trade Center, 343 of them firefighters, 23 New York City police and 37 Port Authority police officers. A third plane hit the Pentagon in Washington DC, taking the lives of 125 military and civilian workers in the Department of Defense headquarters and 64 people who were on the airliner. And brave passengers and crew members attempted to recapture the fourth plane from the hijackers, resulting in its crash into a field in Pennsylvania, taking another 44 lives.
For Ridgefield, a suburb of New York where many people commute to work in city, it was the attacks on the World Trade Center which dominated attention. People working in lower Manhattan —people all over the city — fled home. In town, teachers rode along on school buses to make sure children were going to homes that had parents. People sought news of family members and friends. They traded and shared what information they could get. There were church special church services.
The images of those days, linger — the fall of the towers, the smoking ruins. Who can forget the descriptions of heroic first responders charging up into the burning buildings to bravely do their duty and try to save lives, when everyone else was going down, trying to escape? They sought to help with evacuations and battle the inferno that eventually caused the collapse of both towers and so much death, including many first responders.
Ridgefielders — Americans — were deeply moved and pulled together in patriotism and solidarity by the events of September 11th, 2001.
For some the day’s tragedy struck close to home.
Ridgefielders and people close Ridgefield were among the lives lost on 9/11: Tyler Ugolyn, a 1997 Ridgefield High School graduate, was working at the World Trade Center; Joseph Heller, a Ridgefielder and father of four, worked in the towers; Robert Higley, husband and son-in-law of Ridgefielders, was also a World Trade Center worker; John Williamson, the son of a Ridgefielder, was a New York City Firefighter who answered the call; Christopher Blackwell, another New York firefighter who died doing his duty that day, had earlier in his career worked out of Ridgefield’s firehouse as a Danbury Paramedic; and Bud and Dee Flagg and their friend Barbara Edwards were all on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon in Washington.
A “Ridgefield Remembers 9/11” exhibit, a collaboration of the Ridgefield Historical Society and the town, fills display cases in town hall’s front lobby and will be worth sn interested look during town hall hours, 8:30 to 4:30, through the end of October.
Ridgefield’s public commemoration is next Wednesday, Sept. 11, starting at 6:30, at the town’s 9/11 monument — the rusting beam of World Trade Center steel beside the stream at the edge of the field off Route 35, across from the Fox Hill Condominiums.
All are invited to join in the commemoration, which will end as is now traditional with the laying white roses at the base of the monument.
People will gather to share reflections on the losses of that terrible day, to sing songs and say prayers — and to remember.