22 years after 9/11, Monroe’s first responders vow to never forget

Fire Marshal William Davin speaks during firefighters' annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at the Monroe firehouse on Shelton Road Monday.

MONROE, CT — Heavy rain, thunder and lightning moved this year’s 9/11 ceremony inside the bays of the Monroe firehouse on Shelton Road Monday evening, when first responders and town officials gathered to honor the memories of all who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks 22 years ago.

First Selectman Ken Kellogg and Fire Marshal William Davin spoke from the podium and Dave York, the fire department chaplain, gave a closing prayer.

Those in attendance included uniformed members of the Monroe, Stepney and Stevenson volunteer fire departments, the Monroe Volunteer Emergency Medical Service, first selectman candidates (Town Councilman Terry Rooney and Board of Education member Jerry Stevens) and Town Treasurer Frank Dutches.

During his turn at the podium, Kellogg said:

First Selectman Ken Kellogg.

Every year around this time we see images of September 11, 2001. We will be inundated by pictures and videos of aircraft impacting the Twin Towers, of people fleeing after the collapse, covered in a thick layer of dust. Whenever I see those images a flood of feelings and emotions resurface in me in a fraction of a second. I’m sure I’m not alone in that regard.

It’s a visceral reaction that we have in moments of unthinkable tragedy, based upon a profound lack of respect for human life on a scale so immense that we have difficulty processing it, even here today, 22 years later.

Our hearts go out to those who lost someone, not just on that terrible day, but in the days, months and years that followed, many as a result of working at the response and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. 

As we all know, among those who we lost were hundreds of public safety personnel, from law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services. For those who work and choose to work in emergency services, including most of you here today, on behalf of the town of Monroe, I truly thank you.

Whether career or volunteer, the training and responsibilities are exactly the same and so are the risks, so thank you for the work that you do and for accepting such an enormous responsibility. Your commitment to helping those in need and the resilience of our community and our country honor the memories of those we’ve lost. Let’s celebrate our diversity, but let’s solidify our unity as Americans.

Thank you all for being here today and for honoring those sacrifices and keeping us strong, united and resilient.

Davin noted how everyone remembers exactly where they were 22 years ago at 8:47 in the morning.

David York, fire department chaplain.

“I was here, believe it or not,” he said. “I was in the members room having coffee watching ‘Good Morning America’ when we saw the plane go into the first tower. A day that America said we would never forget. A day that America was attacked on its own soil. A day that spread fear throughout our country.”

In New York City, 2,977 Americans lost their lives when 19 terrorists hijacked two commercial airliners and flew the aircraft into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, 125 more lives were lost when a third hijacked plane was flown into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

Then 44 more lives were lost when courageous passengers of a fourth plane overtook their hijackers, only for their plane to crash into a field in Pennsylvania. However, it prevented their captors from hitting their intended target of either the U.S. Capitol or the White House.

When civilians went home early from their jobs to be safe with their families, Davin said first responders continued to serve. “The public was more aware of us than ever, how quickly they forget,” he said.

Davin said there was a total of 421 emergency responder deaths in New York alone, adding none of them hesitated to perform their duties. “Families were destroyed forever, never to be the same again,” he said.

Davin talked about the first responders who worked in search and rescue missions at Ground Zero, who continue to die from cancer and respiratory diseases. In addition to the 343 FDNY deaths on 9/11, he said he recently saw a number online showing 343 more later died from working at Ground Zero.

“Twenty-two years ago today, a bond joined our country together and a pledge was made, ‘we’ll never forget,'” Davin said. “In closing, I ask you, never forget, as we cannot expect others to remember unless we in the emergency services never forget.”

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