9/11 heroes honored in Derby (slideshow)

The following photos were taken at a memorial ceremony located on the Derby Green for those who risked or lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

The 16th anniversary of 9/11 was a time to celebrate those who ran toward danger in order to save lives, according to Father Christopher Tiano’s group prayer at the annual commemoration ceremony on the Derby Town Green Monday night.

An emotional group of first responders from Shelton, Derby, Milford, Orange and their families gathered at the Derby Town Green on Monday, Sept. 11 to honor those who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers, as well as those who continue to risk their lives everyday as first responders.

Tears fell and memories were shared. Some were able to vividly remember what they were doing and where they were during the attack.

Others in attendance were barely alive and have had to learn about the tragic moment in history via class lessons and videos.

Velvet Washington, 15, of Derby attended the ceremony and said learning about the terrorist attack as a history event has been mind blowing for her.

“It’s crazy to think that somebody would intentionally want to hurt that many innocent people,” said Washington. “It’s sick and learning about it in school is tough, but it’s important to learn about real life and history.”

Washington described detailed lesson plans that her teachers have used to help teach students about the 9/11 attacks.

“We’ve seen videos from 9/11 of people jumping from the buildings. It was so sad,” said Washington. “I couldn’t believe it.”

State Rep. Linda Gentile shared the emotional anecdote where she learned that her cousin was killed in the 9/11 attacks.

“He died when the North Tower came down, so 9/11 is very personal to me,” said Gentile. “It’s taught me one lesson and for the last 16 years I have not left my house angry, I’ve never left my house without saying goodbye to my husband, children or grandchildren and I’ve never missed the opportunity to thank all of the first responders… They ran into the danger while others ran away and I can’t thank you enough.”

Guest speaker at the ceremony was assistant chief of the Orange Fire Department and the president of the Connecticut State Firefighters Association, Vaughn Dumas.

Dumas explained that no matter how much time goes on, the tragedy remains close to those in the first responder family.

“Even though there was such a terrible loss 16 years ago, this was not in vain. The men and women emergency responders that arrived at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 2001 carried out the most successful urban emergency evacuation in modern history. They evacuated and rescued more than 25,000 people from the towers,” said Dumas. “When you become a firefighter you become part of an extended family. The family emcompasses not just the men and women in your department, but firefighters all across the nation… When we lose a firefighter it’s much like losing a member of our own family. We all grieve.”

Derby Mayor Anita Dugatto also spoke at the ceremony and urged people to be thankful for each of the first responders that suit up each day to assure that community’s stay safe.