By Cassandra Day
In a solemn and uplifting speech, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy spoke of the brave and selfless acts committed by first responders and citizens 12 years ago during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks during the memorial program Wednesday in Middletown.
"We are blessed to have been born, or to have moved, to this country to have friends in the fire service, in the police service and responders who would lay down their lives for us," Malloy said. "To have a great military that sends its troops across the world to keep us safe in this nation and to make sure events such as 9/11 happen not again in our country."
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Reps. Paul Doyle, Matthew Lesser and Joseph Serra and Mayor Dan Drew joined Middletown firefighters and police officers, a color guard and bagpipers in a patriotic ceremony to dedicate the permanent Sept. 11 memorial garden at South Fire.
Malloy asked those gathered, which included veterans, to remember every day the events of Sept. 11. "That people from another land decided to attack America because we are a freedom- and liberty-loving people."
Also present was the widow of J. Bruce Eagleson, one of the Connecticut victims of the terrorist attacks who grew up in Middletown, and Mary Canty, whose brother Michael Canty, a commodities broker on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower, perished in the towers' collapse.
Canty said her large family lost a brother "we absolutely adored" that day and after marveling at the outpouring of community support, her parents, who sent all nine children to college, created a scholarship in Michael's name.
"In remembering their duty and remembering their sacrifice, let us not forget that each and every one of them was a person of great potential who was loved and embraced by their family," Malloy said.
South District Fire Commissioner Edward Creem, who spent 20 years as an EMT with a large Volunteer Ambulance Service in Westchester County, NY, said remembering the 343 members of the New York Fire Department who died on Sept. 11, 2001, is very personal.
"Years ago when I served in New York state, I knew and served as a volunteer EMT with Firefighter Sam Oitice of FDNY Ladder 4. He and 14 others from his firehouse on 8th Avenue in midtown Manhattan lost their lives that day," Creem said.
Malloy, mayor of Stamford at the time of the attacks, said he "had great ties to New York City as a former prosecutor and district attorney in Brooklyn," and upon hearing the news of the first plane, Flight 11, crashing into the north face of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, he immediately knew many lives would be lost.
"As mayor of a town that sends many of its citizens to New York, I knew on that day that I was going to lose friends. I knew that I would lose many of my fellow Stamford residents on that day," Malloy said. "I didn't know who, I didn't know exactly how, but I knew it would happen."
The ceremony was interrupted for moments of silence at 8:46 a.m. and 9:02 a.m., when each of two planes flew into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center.