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Families Of The Fallen Keep Memories Alive At Connecticut's 9/11 Ceremony

Friends and family leave white roses at the September 11th memorial at Sherwood Island State Park.
Friends and family leave white roses at the September 11th memorial at Sherwood Island State Park. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Sophie Pelletier Martinelli, left, points to a marker for her late husband, Mike, as their son, Nick, looks on at the state's September 11th Memorial Service.
Sophie Pelletier Martinelli, left, points to a marker for her late husband, Mike, as their son, Nick, looks on at the state's September 11th Memorial Service. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Gov. Dannel Malloy place white roses at the state September 11the memorial in Westport.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Gov. Dannel Malloy place white roses at the state September 11the memorial in Westport. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
A crowd walks to the September 11th memorial at Sherwood Island State Park Thursday.
A crowd walks to the September 11th memorial at Sherwood Island State Park Thursday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
The Bethel High School Navy JROTC presented the colors Thursday.
The Bethel High School Navy JROTC presented the colors Thursday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

WESTPORT, Conn. — Nick Pelletier of Greenwich held his mom’s arm Thursday evening as she kissed her hand and touched it to her husband Mike’s name on the Connecticut 9/11 Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park.

Families and friends of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001, came together here once again to commemorate their loved ones and take comfort that their memories haven’t faded as the nation prepares to mark the 16th anniversary of the terror attacks.

Nick is 16, too.

“He was 3 months old,” Sophie Pelletier Martinelli said, her voice quavering with emotion.

Behind them the fading sun shone on the sails of boats taking advantage of the strong breeze along the shoreline. Many stopped to gaze out at Long Island Sound, much like those residents who gathered in 2001 to watch the smoke from lower Manhattan and — later — stage the state’s relief efforts.

While that day was filled with unspeakable grief, it created a bond among the families of the 161 people lost who had connections to Connecticut, some of the event speakers said.

“That connection that has been gifted to us has made us more a part of the human family,” said Brian Mattiello, former director of the Office of Family Support.

During the ceremony, family members read the names of those who died. Alexandra Blackwell, who works for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, was among the first.

“My dad, New York City firefighter, Rescue 3, Christopher J. Blackwell,” she said.

The Bethel High School Navy JROTC presented the colors, and students from Geraldine W. Johnson School in Bridgeport led the pledge of allegiance.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cadet Glee Club offered a moving rendition of “America — My Country ’Tis of Thee” and U.S. Marine Cpl. Felipe Vieira played “Taps” on his trumpet from the grass outside the pavilion.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said annual commemorations allow those gathered to remember what was and what might have been and the contributions the dead made before their lives were cut short.

“That’s why we make this a memorial,” he said, “a memorial to their greatness.”

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