Flags at half-staff to mark anniversary of 9-11

Flags were ordered to half-staff Tuesday to mark the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman led the state's memorial service Monday evening at Sherwood Island at Westport, home to the permanent memorial.

"Though aa years have passed since the attacks, the grief and sorrow we felt for our country, for our friends and neighbors and complete strangers, is still very close to our hearts," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is in China, said in a statement. "With each passing year, this anniversary serves as a moment for reflection, a time to remember the brave and selfless acts of our first responders and the ordinary people who committed extraordinary acts of heroism. It's a day to keep in mind the dangers we still face, a time to renew our resolve to keep each other safe from harm, and to give thanks to all those in uniform for the work they do.

"It is also a day to remember that we Americans are a strong and resolute people, and that even when we are faced with unspeakable horror and tragedy, we have an indomitable will and spirit that cannot be broken — by anyone, or anything. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who is grieving today — to friends, neighbors and complete strangers. Though some are gone, none are forgotten," he added.

"Here in Connecticut and across the nation, Sept. 11 is a day for us to remember and honor those who lost their lives, and what they meant to their families and their communities," Wyman said. "Their families live with the pain of that loss every day of every year, and we must support them in any way we can. It is also a time to recognize the dedication of our firefighters, police officers and EMS workers, and the 63 brave Connecticut military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Malloy proclaimed Tuesday, Sept. 11, as Honor Our Heroes and Remembrance Day in the State of Connecticut and ordered Connecticut and U.S. flags to half-staff on the day from sunrise to sunset.

By proclamation, President Barack Obama has directed U.S. flags to fly at half-staff and a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m.

Wyman delivered the keynote speech Monday at Sherwood Island. The complete text follows:

Thank you to everyone here today to honor those we lost 11 years ago in the horror that blackened crystal blue skies over our nation's capital, Shanksville, Pa., and New York City. As you might know, Governor Malloy is out of the country and sends his regrets for not being able to be here.

To the families: We are humbled by your presence, and we thank you for sharing this day with us.  In the past 11 years, there have been countless words spoken about the unspeakable tragedies of September 11th, 2001. Countless stories have been told — countless memorials have been built — and countless tears have fallen.

But your presence here, this year and every other, has meaning far beyond words. Because your presence here today means your loved ones are with us, too. They are with us in the faces that I know are still vivid in your minds. They are with us in remembered voices — in the love you feel in your heart.

Today belongs to you, and to them, who I know live within you every second of every day. For the rest of us, here and across Connecticut and the nation, it is absolutely necessary that we never forget who they were, how they lived their lives, and what they meant to you.

That is why we are here. And if I could stand here today and tell every one of their stories, I would. Of course, many were working that day in the World Trade Center, within sight of this wonderful memorial where we gather today.

Like the computer specialist who also created beautiful music on the piano, and who was in the Windows on the World that morning because a friend needed him to fill in at a meeting. The broker who loved to fish and hunt, and who proposed to his wife in 1987 during a dinner atop the Twin Towers.

The 79-year-old engineer, whose quiet, gentle demeanor belied his experience of living in exotic countries across the globe, and his passion for climbing some of the world's highest mountains.

The recent college graduate, who lived for summer sailing and kayaking, and who had just begun his career as a trader. And the software consultant, who loved simple things like cross-stitching and puttering around the house, and who was a month away from marrying the man she had loved for 16 years.

For others, that day began in the air. The young, artistic couple who worked side-by-side as flight attendants, and who had just bought a house where they were to begin their lives together. The aviation executive and part-time pilot, on his way out west for a biking trip with his brothers, who bravely helped fellow passengers try to retake control of their hijacked plane over Pennsylvania.

The blonde 4-year-old girl flying with her Mom to California, where she was going to see Disneyland for the first time. These are just some of the stories of the lives behind the 161 names that we are about to hear.

Five years ago, I had the privilege of helping create a memorial and annual ceremony for the Connecticut military heroes we have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. And now that I have witnessed this ceremony and had the honor to meet some of you I know even more deeply why those 63 brave men and women felt compelled to go to battle.

They fought and made the ultimate sacrifice for your loved ones — and for all of us. My tribute to them is this 9/11 pin that I wear every day, and will only put away when every one of them is back home. I know you join me in praying for their safe return.

I want to end with a few sentences of a 9/11 memorial poem written by two students from Rockville High School - near my hometown of Tolland. The name of the poem is "Out of the Ashes," which the two girls read aloud at a ceremony on the steps of their Town Hall last Sept. 11. I think this single verse speaks not only of what and who we lost 11 years ago — but is a guide to how we can perhaps take strength from the pain that is still very real today.

We are the Twin Towers

Of the past — and present.

Towers of strength - towers of faith.

That can never be erased.

Thank You and God Bless you — and God Bless the United States of America.