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Bay State pauses to remember victims of Sept. 11.
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, 9/11/02
BOSTON -- With candles and prayers, tolling church bells and aching silences, Massachusetts marked the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks Wednesday.
At the Statehouse, the names of 166 victims with ties to the state were read as about 1,000 onlookers stood in the hazy morning light. At Logan International Airport, the sound of jet engines paused. At a Springfield cathedral, hundreds sought consolation in reflection and remembrance.
Drivers even pulled off highways to honor a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., when the first of two airplanes hijacked from Logan struck the World Trade Center.
"I really didn't think I'd have to say goodbye to him for many years," said Eric Parenteau, 27, of Boston, who attended the Statehouse ceremony. He held a signed that read "I miss you, Kenny," a tribute to his best friend who died in New York.
At noon, the bell atop Faneuil Hall rang for the first time since the end of World War II. Church bells across the city chimed for the next 11 minutes.
For those who lost family members, the memorials offered a moment of solace in the shared grief of strangers.
Christie Coombs read some of the victims' names at the Statehouse memorial and said she drew strength from those who attended the ceremony. A year ago, she kissed her husband Jeffrey Coombs before he left for a business trip to Los Angeles on American Flight 11.
Firefighters also felt the weight of the anniversary. Firehouses across the state rang the traditional 5-5-5-5 sequence to signal the death of a firefighter.
New York firefighter Ray Ragucci came to Boston to honor his colleague Manuel DelValle, a Brookline native, who died at the World Trade Center.
Ragucci, 50, of Levittown, N.Y., took a deep breath as he remembered the frantic all-night shift he worked one year ago, and his firefighting brethren who never made it home.
"It's emotional. You think about the families, the children -- it's a hard time," Ragucci said.
At Logan, ground operations paused at 8:46 a.m. Baggage handlers lined up on the tarmac, while terminal television screens showed the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing "God Bless America."
But there were fewer travelers than normal. About a quarter of the usual 1,100 flights were canceled due to low demand.
On the subway, passengers bowed their heads after conductors paused trains and called for a moment of silence. At South Station, Manny Frazier used the public address system to ask commuters to take a moment to remember those who died.
"Be thankful and hopeful that this will be a good day. Keep smiling and keep your heads up," Frazier said.
At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, some students stopped to listen to the tolling bells in the Old Chapel.
Virginia Verdier, a dean's assistant, sat alone on the steps of the chapel at 8:46 a.m.
"I pray for world peace and that we don't go backward, but learn something from this," she said.
Michael Sweeney's wife, Madeline Amy Sweeney, was a flight attendant aboard Flight 11 and fought through her terror to call the airline's ground crew with information about the five hijackers.
The state named an award for bravery after Sweeney and Wednesday acting Gov. Jane Swift presented it to Tiago Medeiros, a Fall River man who pulled a driver from the wreckage of her car moments before it exploded last October.
Michael Sweeney said he tried to focus on his wife's bravery on the anniversary of her death.
At Faneuil Hall, Laura Ogonowski, 17, and Caroline Ogonowski, 15, whose father, John, was captain of Flight 11, read the prayer recited on June 6, 1944, when the Allies began the invasion of Normandy.
U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy called the list of those killed on Sept. 11 "heartbreaking."
"To lose someone you love and to lose them so suddenly, so unexpectedly, so terribly, to see them torn out of the fabric of life is almost more than one can bear," he said.
At an interfaith service at Boston's City Hall Plaza, Cardinal Bernard Law quoted Paul's letter to the Romans: "Bless those who persecute you. Bless -- do not curse them... . Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good."
Imam Talal Eid, religious director of the Islamic Center of New England, quoted from the Quran: "He exalts all righteous deeds, but those who lay the plots of evil, for them is a terrible penalty."
The Springfield Diocese marked the day with a ceremony dedicating a set of hand bells to the memories of 21 attack victims with ties to western Massachusetts during a service at St. Michael's Cathedral.
"The expressions of consolation that we've received from the community has been such a great help," said Ernest Blake of Longmeadow. Blake's granddaughter, Amy Toyen of Boston, died in the World Trade Center during a one-day business trip.
In Northampton, strong winds forced about 300 people gathered for an outdoor candlelight vigil inside. After an hour-long service, people hugged, cried and spoke bluntly about their feelings.
"I was pissed off about what happened on this day last year and I wanted to go and fight this war myself," said Scott Leon, a Northampton salesman. "A year later, I'm worried about my kids. I'm worried about my parents. I'm worried about opening my mailbox. But knowing that we have these brave firefighters and police officers behind us makes me feel a little better."
On the steps of Pittsfield City Hall, Louis Petithory, whose Green Beret son, Daniel, was killed in Afghanistan, talked about not forgetting.
"Reasonable people can disagree about how to proceed against terrorist perverts, but no reasonable people can disagree that we must never really forget what happened a year ago, nor should we forget the brave men and women in the military. That's what this day means to me -- to reinforce not forgetting," Petithory said.
At an interfaith service at Trinity Church in Boston, hosted by the Islamic Society of Boston, Temple Israel and Trinity Church, visitors wrote thousands of messages on three 120-feet long and eight-feet wide white panels.
The notes were written in various languages, but echoed a common theme of hope, reconciliation and condolence.
"Although I knew no single of victim 9/11 I shed tears for them all," one said.