On September 11, 2001, Westport native and current RTM member Andrew Colabella was in 7th grade at Bedford Middle School. He remembers:
I was sitting in Mr. Summ’s English class. We were called to the auditorium. Another fire drill? Motivational speaker? A boring play? Seemed too soon in the beginning of the year to be doing this.
Mrs. Wormser spoke with Ms. Reneri, standing with Mr. Delgado, about 2 planes hitting the World Trade Center. They had no other information to give.
Why would they call us to the auditorium about that? Planes crash every year. I started thinking, what if there is more to this? My friends said I had no idea what I was talking about.
Terrorism wasn’t new to me. My cousin John DiGiovanni was killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
We headed to lunch at 10:32. Parents were coming to the school picking up their kids. Some cried hysterically as they left the guidance office. Even teachers tried to hide their tears.
I went into the hall to hit the power button on the TV. There it was: 2 smoldering towers. People jumping from the high floors. Maybe they’ll land safely. Maybe they’re bringing helicopters with water to put it out, or throw rope to get them out.
It was serious. It was real.
The iconic 9/11 photo was taken by Westport’s Spencer Platt. He lived near the Twin Towers on that awful morning.
I called home. Dad was safe.
A girl walked out of guidance, crying with 2 friends. I never forgot that memory.
Later I learned about Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. I stood with my mom at Burying Hill Beach, watching smoke pour out like blood from a bad cut.
We had been cut. Nearly 3,000 people died, including 343 firefighters, 71 police officers, and EMTs and military personnel. That’s not counting the countless number of people who 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.
I never forgot. If you’re reading this, you never forgot where you were or what you were doing that day.
As we grow older, more and more people born after 2001 have no memory of it. I’ve spoken with youth, even people my age, who never heard of the 1993 attacks, Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, the Oklahoma City bombing, even World War I.
Educating future generations is imperative. 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.
Our world changed. The unthinkable happened. We were brought to our knees. But we got right back up, and struck back.
Today I have been selected to read 21 names from the podium of Ground Zero. It is an honor to read names of men and women. I never knew or met nearly all of them, but they are known to and loved by others: a parent, child, grandchild, cousin, spouse, but overall, a soul. These are the 21 names:
- Boyie Muhammed
- Manuel D. Mojica Jr
- Manuel De Jesus Molina
- Justin John Molisani Jr
- Franklyn Monahan
- Kristen Leigh Montanaro
- Michael G. Montesi
- Antonio De Jesus Montoya Valdes
- Thomas Carlo Moody
- Krishna V. Moorthy
- Abner Morales
- Paula E. Morales
- Gerard P. Moran Jr.
- John Michael Moran
- Lyndsey Stapleton Morehouse
- Steven P. Morello
- Yvette Nicole Moreno
- Richard J. Morgan
- Sanae Mori
- Leonel Geronimo Morocho Morocho
- And my cousin, John Di Giovanni
“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.
Where were you on 9/11? What were you doing?
Who did you know? Who do you remember?
This is my story. What’s yours?