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Looking back in sadness

Five years after the 9/11 attacks, area communities remember one of the darkest days in US history

A Service of Remembrance was held yesterday on the Esplanade at sunset, as firefighters from Boston and across the state gathered to honor 343 of their New York City comrades who died five years ago. As each of the names was read, a firefighter carried a helmet representing a victim.
A Service of Remembrance was held yesterday on the Esplanade at sunset, as firefighters from Boston and across the state gathered to honor 343 of their New York City comrades who died five years ago. As each of the names was read, a firefighter carried a helmet representing a victim. (Jim David/ Globe Staff)

Five years after two hijacked planes from Boston crashed into the World Trade Center, solemn ceremonies in Massachusetts yesterday brought together victims' families, firefighters, police, and ordinary residents who have been saddened and sobered by that day.

The names of all 205 victims with links to Massachusetts were read aloud at the State House in a moving memorial attended by many of the victims' families. A lone bagpiper played ``Amazing Grace" inside the office tower at 75 State Street. Luggage screeners at Logan International Airport paused in silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center.

``It's hard for me to remember what my life was like before Sept. 11, 2001," Lisa Burke said at the State House ceremony. Her cousin, Flight 11 chief purser Karen A. Martin of Danvers, was the hijackers' first victim.

``I miss Karen more as time goes on, not less," Burke said following a video tribute to the Massachusetts victims, whose smiles and embraces, frozen in time, brought many family members to tears in the House chamber.

Earlier, the flag on the State House lawn was raised against a bright, blue, cloudless sky reminiscent of the fateful morning five years ago and then lowered to half- staff.

``The memories I have are so real in my mind it seems like only yesterday," said Jim Ogonowski, a retired Air National Guard lieutenant colonel. His brother, John Ogonowski, was the captain of Flight 11.

``We have been told that our pain and sorrow will ease with the passage of time," said Ogonowski, whose brother lived with his wife and three daughters on a 150-acre farm in Dracut. ``Five years later, I can tell you it is starting, but we know it will never go away."

Governor Mitt Romney followed Ogonowski at the podium, speaking of the loss of parents, children, husbands, mothers, brothers, and sisters. ``It is hard for our minds to contemplate a human darkness so vile that it celebrates murder and destruction of human lives," Romney said. ``But we can celebrate the bright memories of the fallen."

On the Esplanade at sunset, firefighters from Boston and around the state gathered to honor 343 of their comrades who died in New York five years ago. As each of the names was read, a firefighter carried a helmet representing a victim.

Some found ways to use the occasion to help the community.

At Fenway Park yesterday, more than 1,000 people were expected to donate blood at the fourth annual Day of Remembrance, according to Donna Morrissey, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross.

As Anne Brescia of Medford lay on her back in the State Street Pavilion there, awaiting her turn to give blood, she said that this tragic anniversary also has become a day to give back. Yesterday marked Brescia's third visit to the annual event.

Chief Richard Serino of Boston Emergency Medical Services, who walked among the donors, echoed her thoughts about Sept. 11. ``It's always a day, as tragic as it was, that makes you proud," he said.

At L'Aroma in the Back Bay, Ysuff Salie closed the Newbury Street cafe at noon to everyone but victims' relatives and members of the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund, which aids state residents directly affected by the attacks. Salie's 28-year-old pregnant daughter, Rahma, and his 32-year-old son-in-law, Michael Theodoridis, were traveling to a friend's wedding on Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center .

``They were two wonderful people," Salie said, his eyes glassy with tears. ``I cannot let their spirit die. I want it to live."

At Logan's chapel, employees gathered to reflect on the anniversary, and most airline workers wore pins of red, white, and blue ribbon or blue rubber bracelets that read, ``We will never forget."

Robert Paquin, 22, of Providence was a high school senior five years ago and now is working as a customer service agent for JetBlue Airways.

Remembering Sept. 11 ``is something I think about every time I close a flight and do the security checks," Paquin said. ``Even though it was five years ago and I was very young at the time, I still remember that. And it does -- if not every day, then every other day -- come into my mind."

Yesterday, US Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry and US Representative Michael E. Capuano announced that Brigham and Women's Hospital will receive a grant of $460,000 from the US Department of Homeland Security to attempt to find ways to make baggage screening more efficient and less subject to error. The money will go to researchers who specialize in human vision and visual attention.

Tomorrow, Massport plans to unveil the design for a Sept. 11 memorial at Logan to honor the crew and passengers of American Flight 11 and United Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.

In Sudbury, more than 60 people gathered at the September 11th Memorial Garden to honor three residents who died in the terrorist attacks: Geoffrey Cloud, 36; Cora Holland, 52; and Peter Goodrich, 33.

Bette and Peter Cloud placed roses at a plaque for their son, a married father of two who lived in Stamford, Conn., and worked in the World Trade Center. Support from the community has been overwhelming, Bette Cloud said. ``It means everything to us."

Mac Daniel of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Bill Glucroft, Kristen Green, and Andrew Ryan contributed to this report. Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at macquarrie@globe.com.

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