Family, friends gather to honor lives lost in 9/11

Family, friends gather to honor lives lost in 9/11

WESTPORT ­­-- Eight years after the terrorist attacks that leveled the World Trade Center and took the lives of nearly 3,000 people, the grief is almost as palpable as it was on Sept. 11, 2001, for the families and friends left behind.

They gathered Wednesday at Sherwood Island State Park, site of the state's 9/11 Living Memorial, to honor the 156 people with Connecticut ties who died in the towers and on commandeered planes that day. The park is only 53 miles from Manhattan, and many people gathered on the peninsula, where the memorial now sits, to watch smoke billowing into the skyline on that fateful day.

"We can't snap our fingers and make the grief go away. ... We can only accept it, share it and endure it," Gov. M. Jodi Rell told an audience of about 300 people at the 9/11 anniversary ceremony. Rell urged those gathered to remember and mourn, but also to gain a renewed purpose and resolve; "renewed strength to do those things and to be those people that the missing would want us to do and want us to be.

"Today is much more than remembering. It's about living. ... We will remember them and we will go on in strength," said Rell, whose voice cracked with emotion when she spoke .

Rell later joined Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, memorial organizers and clergymen in a reception line at the entrance to the memorial. Loved ones left white and red roses, seashells and other mementos at the granite markers bearing the names of those they lost.

At the stone for Timothy John Hargrave someone left a packet of M&M candies. Three white roses and pieces of sea glass were left on Scott J. O'Brien's marker. Kathy and Dale Maycen, of Branford, left a bouquet of sunflowers for their daughter, Lindsay Morehouse.

"This memorial is very meaningful," Kathy Maycen said. Morehouse's remains were never recovered and so the Westport memorial is the only place where her name is inscribed in stone and where they can come to mourn her, Dale Maycen said.

Several family members recited the names of Connecticut's 9/11 victims. Alex Blackwell, of Brewster, N.Y., was the first to read, including the name of her father, Christopher J. Blackwell, a New York firefighter who was born and raised in New Fairfield.

"My sister, Candace Lee Williams," said Cory Williams. Candace Williams was a 20-year-old college student from Danbury, who was on one of the airliners that hit the Trade Center.

Jack Goldberg, the nephew of Joel Miller, said the Westport memorial location is "comforting and calming." Alex Blackwell, who works at the park, said she prefers attending the Westport memorial ceremony rather than the one in New York on the actual anniversary because "It's smaller, it's quieter, and you can get more personal with the memorial itself."

Nancy Nuzzo and Maria Giunta, both of Westport, said they knew no one who perished on 9/11 but come to the memorial every year out of respect .

Family members not only expressed sadness for their loss but anger about the remains that were shipped to a garbage dump in New York. Paul Kerwin, formerly of Weston, is one of the 1,100 families who never received their loved ones' remains. "Our sons and daughters and wives and husbands are not garbage," said Kerwin, whose son Glenn Kerwin was killed on 9/11.

"To think of all those people there is just wrong," said C. Lee Hanson, of Easton, who wore around his neck a photograph of his son Peter, daughter-in-law Sue Kim, and 3-year-old granddaughter Christine Lee Hanson, who were on Flight 175, one of the planes that hit the Trade Center.