Wilton remembers those lost on Sept. 11, 2001
“For the families of lost loved ones, 9/11 was yesterday. For those of us in uniform, 9/11 was also yesterday, as we lost members of our extended family that day as well.”
Fire Chief Ron Kanterman addressed a small group of community members, as well as Wilton’s fire, police and emergency workers at the town’s annual memorial honoring those who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Wilton lost five men that day: Peter Christian Fry, 36; John F. Iskyan, 41; Edward Fergus Jr. 40; Edward York, 45; and John Henwood, 35.
Fire Lt. Jim Blanchfield conducted the service which included a prayer by Fr. Reggie Norman of Our Lady of Fatima, remarks by First Selectman Bill Brennan, Police Chief Robert Crosby, and Kanterman.
The guest speaker was Sandy Mumbach, a 45-year-resident who spoke of her personal experiences as a mother of two firefighters who responded to ground zero on Sept. 11.
Firefighter William Wilson sang God Bless America and police Officer Anna Tornello sang the National Anthem and Amazing Grace.
Blanchfield began by thanking attendees and quickly recalling the attacks and the resulting casualties.
“On behalf of the Wilton firefighters, thank you for being here with us today, remembering and honoring those that lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001,” Blanchfield said, introducing the ceremony. “On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks resulted in approximately 3,000 innocent people losing their lives, ranging in age from age 3 to age 83.
Also perishing that day were approximately 400 men and women of the police, fire, EMS, Port Authority family, giving their lives in the singular, selfless effort to save lives. Sept. 11 represents the deadliest day in our nation’s fire and law enforcement’s history.”
Heads then bowed as Norman’s prayer urged those in attendance to remember the living along with the dead and asked God to grace the nation’s citizens with compassion to facilitate that remembrance.
“Father God,” he prayed, “we come before you, your humble servants, seeking your comfort, seeking your wisdom, but most importantly seeking common love, for although we remember those who are gone, we must also remember those who have remained and continue to mourn and to hurt.”
Next at the podium was Brennan. After paying his respects, he acknowledged the United States’ resilience while also cautioning listeners never to let down their guards.
“This attack did not bend or defeat us,” Brennan said. “Indeed our nation was awakened and strengthened and has pursued the criminals that were responsible for this cowardly act. However, the radical enemies still continue to threaten the safety of our citizens, as we witness fanatic terrorist activity around the world. Therefore we must remain vigilant and strong and also remember our brave men and women in uniform who protect us and defend our freedom and American values.”
Kanterman saw this year’s memorial as a promise kept.
“We gather here this morning to briefly pause and remember those who were lost because we promised to never forget, and that means never forgetting. Today, we collectively keep our promise,” he said.
After recognizing the lives that were lost, Kanterman then reflected on those that were saved.
“The uniformed services that day collectively rescued 25,000 people from the Twin Towers in New York and from the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.,” he said.
He concluded by citing our nation’s ability to rebound from tragedy.
“We’ve continued to move on and grow to be a stronger nation,” Kanterman said. “The World Trade Center is open; the 9/11 memorial is visited by millions each year, and the 9/11 museum is open, and stands as a lasting testimony for future generations to come, so they will know what sacrifices were made on Sept. 11, 2001. You can knock America down, but you can never count us out. That’s who we are.”
Crosby reminded the audience that the ripples of 9/11 caused the death of another former Wiltonian.
“Also lost as a result of 9/11 was Nicholas Madaras, who was killed in action in 2006 while defending our freedoms,” Crosby said.
Pfc. Nicholas A. Madaras was killed at the age of 19 by an IED while on patrol in Baqubah, Iraq.
Crosby also gave a breakdown of the casualties suffered by the various emergency response units on Sept. 11.
“Today, we remember 343 fire fighters, 60 law enforcement officers, eight EMS, and the individuals today who are suffering from the illnesses caused by the aftermath. Today, we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, along with those who are prepared to make it both here and across the globe defending our freedoms,” Crosby said.
Mumbach’s speech told of her sons and the stories they brought back with them from ground zero.
“My sons are both firemen,” Mumbach said. “Jason is a volunteer in Trumbull, and Matthew is FDNY, although he was in Stratford at the time. They took off with Capt. Czarnecki and Dave Chaloux, and were at ground zero by one o’clock. Their stories are remarkable.”
“They came out slowly,” she said; “they didn’t come out all at once, but I remember them telling me of the eeriness of passing all the ambulances on the West Side, all lined up to transport the survivors who never appeared.”
The rest of Mumbach’s speech can be read here.
Click here to view more photos from the annual ceremony.