On Saturday, Sept. 11, the Wilton Firefighters Local 2233 and the Wilton Fire Department held a memorial service in tribute to the Emergency Responders and Wilton residents killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks. They were joined by fellow emergency personnel from the Wilton Police Department, the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps (WVAC) and Norwalk Hospital paramedics, as well as an honor guard from Wilton’s American Legion Post 96.
September 11 events that are held in towns like Wilton are what keep alive the memory of what we lost on that awful day. Every Sept. 11, we pay respectful tribute and recall those heroes who perished in the attacks on the U.S. 20 years ago. Remembering them reminds us to honor the bravery and service of first responders all other 364 days of the year as well.
That this year’s memorial ceremony in Wilton took place on a day much like the one 20 years ago, with a sunny, cloudless blue sky as a backdrop, added to the reverence. Most poignantly, one of Wilton’s newest police officers, Kevin Maloney, a retired NYPD lieutenant who was serving in the line of duty on 9/11, recalled his experience and what the days were like following the attacks.
“I don’t think I could describe what I saw [at Ground Zero] in any other words. For the next six months, my life was living out of the precinct, going to Ground Zero on any off time we were allowed to have, consoling my brothers and sisters in blue. My mother always said, ‘9/11 was the day America stood still.’ I still believe that. I always want to remember the souls in the fields of Pennsylvania, the souls at the Pentagon, and my brothers and sisters down at Ground Zero.”
Fire Chief Jim Blanchfield spoke of Wilton’s 9/11 memorial spot, erected to honor the five residents who died that day — Edward Fergus, Peter C. Fry, John Henwood, John F. Iskyan and Edward P. York.
“Our memorial here in Wilton is simple. It was put together collaboratively by the town and the Wilton firefighters two decades ago. It includes both the flagpole and the plaque set in stone. That plaque sets out the names of those who perished in Wilton that day. The stone was actually selected by one of our retired captains who’s here today, Karl Dolnier. Karl chiseled out that stone and set the plaque. It is a place where anyone, any time can stop and pay tribute and their respects. On a personal level, I’m reminded when I go home from a long day at work, that no matter how good or bad the day was, I do get to go home, whereas those five Wiltonians listed here never got that opportunity again,” he said.
Speakers including Fire Captain Brian Elliot and WVAC Past President John Miscocia asked listeners to think not only of the 2,977 people who were lost that day, but also of the thousands more who have either died from illnesses related to their efforts at Ground Zero or who still suffer from the repercussions. As Blanchfield put it, “For them, the tragedy of 9/11 isn’t just a yearly event, it’s a daily remembrance.”
Selectwoman Lori Bufano read remarks from First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, who was unable to attend the event. She mourned the fact that for many people, the date of Sept. 11 has lost its meaning.
“That makes this event in Wilton even more important. As long as Wilton Fire Fighters Local 2233 hosts this event and as long as people like you come, the day will not be meaningless and the firefighters, police and others who lost their lives that day won’t be forgotten, at least here in Wilton.”
Later Saturday, the annual CT United Ride roared through town in commemoration of a different sort, as thousands of motorcycle riders cruise through a route of 10 towns as a way to honor the 9/11 victims.
Wilton CERT made sure that both riders and other motorists in Wilton were kept safe during the ride’s time in Wilton.
9/11 Memorial Ceremony
CT United Ride