‘It reminds us how fragile life can be:’ Remembering 9/11 amid coronavirus

Margot Eckert remembers loved ones as she lays roses at the memorial during the state of Connecticut’s 18th annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony honoring and celebrating the lives of those killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Thursday at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Family members of those who were killed in the attacks participated, and the names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut were read aloud.

WESTPORT — Since Sept. 11, 2001, the nation has come together each year to commemorate the anniversary of a moment that forever changed America.

This year’s ceremony will also reflect the current challenging times.

On Thursday, the state’s 19th Sept. 11 memorial ceremony will be held at Sherwood Island State Park and include safety measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Social distancing is at a premium,” Max Reiss, a spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont, said. “Where instead of having an audience of people there, instead of having people stand close to each other, the goal is to have people stay as far apart as is reasonable to make sure we prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.”

The event will be held outdoors and face coverings are required for attendees in addition to maintaining proper social distancing.

While the event may be scaled back for safety reasons, Reiss said it was important to continue the ceremony. Just as the nation has adapted to a new normal under COVID-19, there is a parallel to how life changed after two planes crashed into the Twin Towers and one into the Pentagon, he said.

“Your experience going to the airport changed, your experience going to a sporting event changed, your experience maybe even going to school changed,” Reiss said. “It’s important to continue these type of ceremonies in the safest possible way to make sure we are not forgetting what the impact of what that day is and was.”

The ceremony will be live streamed on the Connecticut Network for those who cannot attend in person, he said.

“The events of 9/11 made a huge impact on the residents of the tri-state area and certainly to the residents of Connecticut, and specifically Westport,” said First Selectman Jim Marpe, who will be attending the ceremony for the eighth time.

When the twin towers were struck, people who made their way to Sherwood Island were able to see the smoke and fire in New York City from miles away, he said. A memorial was erected in the location many stood to witness the tragedy from afar.

“As a result, I think Westport is honored to be the site of the Connecticut memorial in remembrance of all the people who were sadly killed on that tragic day,” Marpe said.

He said the ceremony causes everyone to think about the importance of human life.

“It reminds us how fragile life can be and consequently how we need to be sure each day we’re considering the importance and challenges of all our fellow human beings,” Marpe said.

Reiss shared similar sentiments.

“People still get asked ‘where were you when (9/11) happened’ and we know people are going to be asking where were you when the pandemic happened,” he said. “This is the kind of moment to commemorate and show how we all came together.”

Connecticut Media Group