[OPINION] Andrew Colabella Remembers 9/11

It has been 20 years since the worst tragedy in American history took place. I write this as the sky is as blue and the temperature as crisp and warm as that same day.

But it feels like yesterday I was sitting in Mr. Summ’s English class. We were called to the auditorium. I thought it was another motivational speaker or student body exercise. But something felt off. It was way too soon in the year to do this.

Mrs. Wormser, our principal, spoke with Ms. Reneri, standing with Mr. Delgado quietly as we settled into our seats. Two planes hit the World Trade Center. Aanother hit the Pentagon.

It was more than just planes crashing — it was an attack. I watched my friends gasp and cry. Some ran out of the auditorium. At that moment, all of our lives changed forever. Our futures, our goals, our thoughts, our security — forever altered.

Westporters — and the world — watched tranfixed, as both World Trade Center buildings collapsed.

Terrorism wasn’t new to me. My cousin John DiGiovanni was killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

I had to see this for myself. I was always fascinated by emergencies: the flashing lights, the sound of a siren. I still am. I have always wanted to help people. But I I could only watch. Parents came to pick up their kids. Some cried hysterically as they left the guidance office. As much as administrators and teachers tried to keep us calm, we could not stop talking about what we heard.

I got picked up by my mom later. We stood at Burying Hill Beach, watching smoke and ash take over the horizon, spreading towards Long Island and beyond.

Nearly 3,000 people died, including 343 firefighters, 71 police officers, and EMTs and military personnel. Countless more became sick and died long after the attacks.

Sherwood Island State Park, my backyard, holds the memory of 161 names — all Connecticut residents who died on 9/11. On a clear day, you can see the Manhattan skyline from the site.

The 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park. (Photos/Ellen Bowen)

Today I will head to Ground Zero to take part in the reading of names It is an honor to read names of men and women, alongside survivors and families who lost loved ones.

It’s still a grieving process for all — a way to learn about others, how their lives crossed our loved ones’ paths, a real-life learning experience to remind us how atrocious and horrible what happened to us. Here are the names I’ll read:

  • ANDREW KEITH FRIEDMAN
  • GREGG J. FROEHNER
  • PETER CHRISTIAN FRY
  • STEVEN ELLIOT FURMAN
  • KARLETON DOUGLAS BEYE FYFE
  • RICHARD PETER GABRIEL
  • JAMES ANDREW GADIEL
  • ERVIN VINCENT GAILLIARD
  • GRACE CATHERINE GALANTE
  • DANIEL JAMES GALLAGHER
  • LOURDES J. GALLETTI
  • VINCENT GALLUCCI
  • GIOVANNA GALLETTA GAMBALE
  • GIANN F. GAMBOA
  • PETER JAMES GANCI, JR.
  • CHARLES WILLIAM GARBARINI
  • CESAR R. GARCIA
  • JORGE LUIS MORRON GARCIA
  • MARLYN DEL CARMEN GARCIA
  • DOUGLAS BENJAMIN GARDNER
  • And my cousin, John Di Giovanni, in 1993.

“No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time” is affixed to the Ground Zero wall. Each square is a different color, representing each different, unique person who died that day.

Behind this wall are the remains of 7,000 human fragments. Roughly 1,161 people to this day have still not been found. Families bring in belongings of loved ones, to hope find a match, put their loved one to rest and bring closure. It is still considered an active crime scene. The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office operates out of this facility closed off to the public. Families are able to view the mahogany drawers through a glass window in a private room.

I ask everyone to take part in a ceremony or event, wherever you are reading. I ask all town events occurring this weekend to have a moment silence. to remember those who cannot be with us today, who cease to exist and live but live on in memory.

Educating future generations is imperative. I implore everyone to share their stories in the Comments below, and beyond as we learn from each other. The history of how we got to where we are today, and what we endured as a nation, is vital.

We can never forget those who died for no reason. We can never let our guard down. Sadly, we have forgotten about our past mistakes as what is occurring in the Middle East takes place. I honestly fear that as terrorists regain strength, control, and our equipment, there will be more attempts to disrupt peace through violence.

I hope to never see another 9/11. But I will continue to read names every 2/26 and 9/11 until I cease to exist. And from there, maybe my kids will read for me.

Freedom Tower (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

6 responses to “[OPINION] Andrew Colabella Remembers 9/11

  1. Beautifully written. Thank you.

  2. Still shocking photographs

  3. Where Did The Towers Go?

    Follow the evidence:
    https://youtu.be/bRq2xQSPPJk

  4. beautiful Andrew

  5. Great tribute! But I don’t see Tyler Ugolyn on the list but he is on the Sherwood plaque.

  6. Well said. Thanks for sharing your memories and thoughts.

Leave a Reply