The mood was somber Friday morning as New Canaan residents, elected officials and emergency personnel gathered at the steps of Town Hall to commemorate the searing memories and life lost on 9/11. The service lasted approximately 20 minutes and included speeches, prayer, music and a moment of silence.
Among those in attendance were police officers, firefighters, first responders, Sen. Toni Boucher, Rep. John Hetherington, First Selectman Jeb Walker, New Canaan Police Captain Leon Krolikowski and several New Canaan residents.
"It's been nine years and this town lost a lot," Walker said. "We must remember the victims and heroes who responded… When we gather here we show ourselves to be a strong community."
Friday's 9/11 memorial was the ninth service since the 2001 tragedy. For some residents, the service provided a moment of catharsis to honor the people lost in the disaster.
"[Sept. 11 has] touched all of us. It's always on my mind," New Canaan resident Lauren Cerretani said. "I have a lot of connections with first responders, so it's important to do these ceremonies."
Several emergency personnel from New Canaan responded to the call for help on Sept. 11, 2001. New Canaan resident and EMT Melanie Barnard was among the first responders to arrive at the scene of the World Trade Center.
"It was a day just like today. The sky was clear blue," Bernard said, her eyes welling with tears. "Every year it all floods back. We went down [to the World Trade Center] and it was so quiet. When we drove through the Bronx, there was a sign saying 'Turn around. New York is closed.' Then driving through Central Park it was all so quiet. Then we got to Chelsea Piers and there were only emergency vehicles... There were so many ambulances ready to accept the wounded and it took hours until we found out there were no wounded."
While the memories of 9/11 continue to haunt New Canaan residents, the annual memorial is a way to pay solemn respects.
"I don't think we ever will forget that day," New Canaan resident Jenny Esposito said. "This has always been an emotional time of year and it still is."