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Twenty Years Later, Connecticut Remembers Those Lost On 9/11

Attendees lay white roses on the 9/11 memorial at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport Thursday night. It's a yearly tradition to read the names of Connecticut's lost and lay the flowers.
Ali Oshinskie
Connecticut Public Radio
Attendees lay white roses on the 9/11 memorial at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport Thursday night. The yearly tradition also includes reading the names of the people Connecticut lost.

For Fairfield resident Elizabeth Bullis Wiese, memorial moments come often for her sister, Dianne Bullis Snyder. Wiese said, with a smile on her face, that her sister was a very funny person and a “live wire.”

“Before she died, I just thought, ‘Oh, wow, we’re gonna grow old together,’” Wiese said. “I was like, ‘That would be good.’ And then she was gone, died at 42 years old.”

Wiese’s sister was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. Saturday marks 20 years that she and thousands of others were killed in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

On that day, residents stood on the shores of Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, watching the smoke billow from lower Manhattan. Before the attacks, the twin towers were visible from the state park on a clear day.

In 2002, an official memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks was created at Sherwood Island State Park.

Now it’s a yearly tradition for families and loved ones of those lost on 9/11 to gather at the memorial. On Thursday night, family members joined first responders and Connecticut leaders, including Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, in laying white roses on the memorial and reading the names of Connecticut’s lost.

Fred Haschak, a retired Bridgeport firefighter of 35 years, watched the rose-laying as he held a slightly different-looking American flag. In place of stripes were the names of all the people who died that day.

Haschak said that a co-worker, Dana Hannon, chased his dream of becoming a New York firefighter.

“But unfortunately, he was one of the 343 that perished,” Haschak said, referring to the firefighters who died in the attacks.

On Saturday, Haschak will complete a tradition of his own, walking the 8 miles from Bridgeport’s Black Rock to the Sherwood Island memorial, holding that flag.

As the crowd dispersed and the sun set in pink and gold over Long Island Sound, Wiese recalled how in the period after the attacks, life seemed more peaceful and gentle.

“I wish we could just all open our hearts, and just love,” she said. “That’s really what it’s all about.”

Wiese said she often considers how each human is on the earth for a short time, whether it be her life so far or the 42 years her sister got.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.

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