After 20 Years, Terror Attacks Still Painful

By: Alan Pollock

Flags on the lawn of the Chatham Fire Headquarters represent first responders who died on 9/11. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

CHATHAM Like the pale blue skies Saturday, the pain and sorrow of 9/11 might have been slightly duller than they were 20 years ago, but the memories of the terror attacks remained powerful.

Gathered under a giant American flag outside the fire station, dozens of people took time Saturday morning to reflect on the Sept. 11 attacks, the innocents who lost their lives and the heroes who answered the call in the hours, days and years that followed. On the lawn were 412 small flags, each one representing a first responder who died that day, with thousands more to die in the military campaign that followed. Just two weeks ago, 13 service members died helping evacuate people from Afghanistan.

“It’s been 20 years of pain,” Fire Chief David DePasquale told the assembly.

Chatham native and Westport Fire Chaplain Kate Galop prayed that, two decades later, we continue to strive to be the “light in a dark world” and the peace in a world filled with panic.

Among those who spoke was television journalist Morton Dean, who recalled lining up to give blood in Washington, D.C., immediately after the attack on the Pentagon, and seeing faces of every color in the line, “the faces of America.” People did what they could to help one another regardless of their religion, background or political affiliation.

“The only thing that mattered was that people needed help,” he said. Dean praised local first responders, who he said would have responded just as heroically if the attacks had happened in Chatham, rather than in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa.