Town residents and officials gathered on the lawn of the Human Services building Tuesday morning to remember those who lost their lives and those who rescued others in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
About 60 people stood in the building's parking lot and along the sidewalk as an honor guard comprised mainly of police and firemen stood at attention alongside a podium and a wreath.
At 9:59 a.m., the moment the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in 2001, Police Chief Edward Nadriczny began the ceremony, and Monsignor Scheyde of St. Aloyius Church delivered an invocation which was followed by a moment of silence.
Bagpiper Stephanie Moore then played "Amazing Grace."
First Selectman Robert Mallozzi made a short speech remembering those who gave their lives saving others during the aftermath of the catastrophic attack and offering a memorial to those who lost loved ones in the attack.
Nadriczny then took the podium and listed the numbers of the civilians and different types of first responders who lost their lives that day.
Following the remarks, one member of the police department, one of the fire department and an EMS worker took the wreath from the lawn and set it up next to the mangled World Trade Center beam displayed outside the New Canaan Fire Headquarters. There are three red roses on the wreath, one for each New Canaan resident who died on Sept. 11.
The firehouse rang its bell five sets of three times apiece.
Captain Nancy Upton, of the New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps, sang "God Bless America."
After the ceremony, Nadriczny shared his recollections of the day 11 years ago. He remembered that he was at the police academy in a nearby town for a legal update training session, among the more mundane things a police chief might do. The group was called into a break room from an auditorium, where a television was on and the first tower had already been hit.
"I thought an air-traffic controller had made a mistake," he said. "A person next to me said, `No, this is an act of terrorism.' "
His group was dismissed from the training, and he drove over the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Bridge, looking up at the sky to see if there were any more planes. He drove past his daughter's elementary school, just to make sure nothing was going on.
When he got to the police station, everyone had the TVs on and were watching and waiting. They thought they might get called in to do traffic control, but the call never came. At around 5 p.m., the department sent a Chevrolet Tahoe loaded with six officers and water and shovels and flashlights down to the city. They stayed overnight doing traffic control and returned in the morning.
"People were just numb. We didn't know what to say, what to do, but we just can't ever forget those people," Nadriczny said.
Fire Commissioner Paul Foley was working as the chief financial officer for a startup company at the time. He worked on the top floor of a nine-story office building on Greenwich Street, near the West Side Highway, north of the Financial District.
"We had the windows open and heard the plane hit," he said. "They were pile driving across the street and it sounded like that, but way louder."
He and the rest of his office went up to the flat roof the company sometimes used for entertainment functions, where they watched the second plane come in right off the water of the Hudson River. Everyone stayed in the office for a little while, as they did not feel directly in danger at their location on Greenwich Street.
"We saw the towers come down. It was like an out-of-body experience. After the first, you felt the second one would come down as well. You didn't know how many people were in there, how many got out. We just didn't know anything."
Foley said he hitchhiked to Grand Central Station because the subways weren't running. He recalled that he was on the first or second train to leave that afternoon, which he estimated was at 1:30 p.m.
Everyone remembers that day and the memorial outside the Human Services building acted as an official and communal remembering.
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