It’s been 18 years since the country was shattered by terrorist attacks that took the lives of 2,996 people, including five from Wilton.

In honor of those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, and the service responders who still suffer lingering effects from that day, remembrance services were held around the country, including a ceremony held outside Wilton Fire Headquarters at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11.

The weather was mild and warm on Wednesday, just as it was on the morning of Sept 11, 2001, when two hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, destroying its two towers. Another hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C, while a fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after its passengers thwarted the hijacker.

About 50 people gathered at Wilton’s ceremony, not including uniformed personnel, in front of fire trucks parked outside the firehouse. Bagpiper Ralph E. Nathanson led a color guard and complement of firefighters, police officers and EMS volunteers.

Fire Capt. Jim Blanchfield delivered opening remarks, naming the five Wilton residents who died in the Twin Towers: Edward Fergus, Peter C. Fry, John Henwood, John F. Iskyan and Edward P. York. A memorial at the firehouse pays honor to them.

He also paid tribute to emergency responders who were killed in the tower attack: 71 police officers, 37 port authority officers, and 343 firefighters. “Each giving up their lives in the singular, selfless effort to save others,” he said.

Fire Chief Geoff Herald praised the work of police, fire, and ems responders. “In this calling, we are sometimes asked to consider sacrifices in the performance of our duties… We never know what awaits us on our journey into the office,” he said.

“We are all in this together,” said Police Capt. John Lynch. “As we move forward in life, we remember and honor those who gave their lives on that fateful day. We also remember those who have since died as a result of their service and commitment to helping others. Some were family members and loved ones. Some were friends and some were neighbors. Many of them we didn’t know, but each one has a special place in our hearts. By honoring them each Sept. 11, we keep their memories alive and remember how hatred can change us forever,” he said.

He quoted Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, saying, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”

Other speakers included Rev. Reginald Norman of Our Lady of Fatima, who offered a prayer of comfort and support, and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice who noted that 18-year-olds have no first hand memory of Sept. 11, but anxiety in students continues to rise as a result of the events of that day.

EMS president John Miscioscia called the ceremony, “part of the healing process to let the men and women who lost their lives that day and since that day know that we haven’t forgotten them.”

Firefighters Daniel Lewis, Gary Mandel, Noah Fouad and Patrick Garber raised the flag to half-staff, and there was a moment of silence. Lt. Bill Wilson sang “America the Beautiful,” and Sgt. Anna Tornello and Ralph Nathanson, performed “Amazing Grace.”

Attending the ceremony were several town and state officials, including State Sen.Will Haskell (D-26) and State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143). Fire Commissioner Ross Tartell praised Wilton police, fire and EMS for putting the ceremony together. “This is a statement of what is important in our town, as a beacon of liberty and justice to the world,” he said.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com