Sept. 11 — and now April 15 — recalled with church bells, tears, and white roses in ceremonies in Boston
Church bells tolled, tears were shed, and a wreath of white roses was placed today at the Garden of Remembrance in the Boston Public Garden as Massachusetts remembered the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — and this year at the Boston Marathon.
Shortly after 8 a.m, Laura Ogonowski joined Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and relatives of those who died on Sept. 11 to place the wreath in front of the memorial for the victims. Ogonowski’s father, American Airlines pilot John Ogonowski, died in the attacks.
“Every year that passes is another year we are not with our father,’’ said Laura Ogonowski, who was 16 years old when her father, the pilot of Flight 11, was killed. “We miss him every day.’’
Also attending today was Charles Coombs, now 81 years old. He came to honor his son, Jeffrey, who was a passenger on Flight 11, one of the planes hijacked by terrorists. The elder Coombs has attended every memorial service for the past 12 years and has no plans to stop.
“I just think that if it was reversed, if it was me on the plane instead of Jeffrey, he’d be here for me,’’ Charles Coombs said. “So I’ve been here for 12 of these. I know he’d come for me.’’
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, who gained national attention in the wake of the Boston Marathon terror attack on April 15, was preparing to speak at a State House ceremony.
He saw a common, painful link between the two attacks. Both, he said, were more than just crimes committed by a small group of people. “It’s an assault on the nation,’’ he said.
Two of the four planes used in the Sept. 11 attacks took off from Logan International Airport in Boston; 206 people with ties to Massachusetts were killed. Three people were killed during the Boston Marathon bombings this year and more than 260 were injured. A police officer was also killed as the alleged bombers tried to escape the area.
Later, outside the State House, as the mournful sound of Taps was played, the American flag was raised — but only to half-staff — in honor of those killed. After a moment of silence, Governor Deval Patrick and family members read the names of their lost loved ones, sometimes adding a personal memory as they did.
This year’s ceremony included a moment of silence for the victims of the Marathon bombings and a tribute to the first responders.
The ceremony was followed by the presentation of the Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery, an award named in memory of Madeline Amy Sweeney, an American Airlines flight attendant on Flight on one of the hijacked planes, who contacted the airline’s ground services to provide information about the terrorists aboard.
Carlos Arredondo received the award. On his way to the podium, he embraced Jeff Bauman, the Marathon bombing victim whom he helped by applying a tourniquet to both his legs and carrying him to an ambulance in the chaotic aftermath of the blasts.
“I was doing my job as a human being. I am glad I helped best I could,” said Arredondo, who lost a son in the Iraq War.
Arredondo said that since the death of that son and another son, he sometimes felt like he couldn’t get out of bed. But somehow he made it to the day of the Marathon bombings.
Bill Richard, whose 8-year-old son, Martin, died and whose 7-year-old daughter, Jane, lost a leg, in the blast, delivered an inspirational reading. He thanked the organizers for allowing the Marathon attacks to be remembered the same day as the Sept. 11 attacks were remembered.
“May God bless us all,” he said.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said that with the Marathon bombings the nation again was confronted “with the barbarity of those who wish our nation harm.”
The heroism of first responders and good Samaritans showed “in the face of inhumanity, there is good,” DeLeo said.
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