The names of all 161 Connecticut residents who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on September 11 were read during the emotional ceremony that brought tears to the eyes of many people in attendance.
Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, who gave the keynote speech, remembered specific people who lost their lives, like a college graduate who started working as a trader just months before the tragic incident. Wyman also remembered victims in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania like the Connecticut mother and daughter who lost their lives while flying to Disneyland for their first time.
Wyman told the victims' families she was humbled by their presence, and thanked them for being there.
“Your presence here, this year and every other, has meaning far beyond words. Because your presence here today means your loved ones are with us, too. They are with us in the faces that I know are still vivid in your minds. They are with us in remembered voices - in the love you feel in your heart,” Wyman said. “It’s absolutely necessary we never forget who they were, how they lived their lives, and what they meant to you."
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty said it’s a privilege for his department to keep Connecticut’s 9/11 memorial looking beautiful.
“This is one of our greatest state parks,” Esty said, adding that Sherwood Island State Park is Connecticut’s first state park.
Esty said Sherwood Island is the perfect place for the memorial as you can see New York City. Esty remembered the smoldering clouds of smoke that could be seen from Sherwood Island on the morning of September 11.
Redding Police Officer Chris Vadas, who lost his brother Bradley on September 11, read many of the victims' names during the ceremony. Bradley Vadas was a Westport resident who lived on Bermuda Avenue and worked at the World Trade Center. Chris Vadas said his son was born two weeks after September 11 and that he named him Bradley, after his uncle.
White roses that were donated by the Classical Studies Academy in Bridgeport were given out for the third consecutive year at the beginning of the ceremony. Friends and family members were able to place the roses on the memorial following the ceremony. Family members gathered around the memorial and watched the sun set after mourning their lost relatives.
Chris and Mark Spagnoletti recalled memories of their brother who they lost on September 11. The two brothers created the Gregory T. Spagnoletti Foundation in his memory, which has donated nearly $500,000 to hospitals and people in need since 2001.
“Gregory was a charitable person before he passed,” said Mark Spagnoletti. “We wanted to continue on his beliefs and his memory.”
“It’s a way to honor Greg’s memory and do good things in his name,” Chris Spagnoletti said.
State Senator Toni Boucher, State Representative Johnathan Steinberg (D-136), and State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143) were also in attendance.
Westport First Selectman Gordon F. Joseloff said the ceremony was very moving.
Joseloff said it was difficult to watch children who were not born 11 years ago ask their parents to explain why this tragedy occurred. He recalled the clouds of dark smoke that could be seen from Westport on the morning of September 11.
“Every year it almost becomes more painful because you don’t want to forget,” Joseloff said of the ceremony.