9/11... Ten Years After

Sunday, September 11, 2011 0 Comments A + a -

Today was a solemn day that was filled with many emotions:  sadness, heartache, anger, fear, resignation, and hope to name but a few.  For most, the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001 is a moment in time to pause and reflect on the tremendous loss of life not only on that tragic day, but also on the sacrifice of so many servicemen and women in two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade.  Today also marked the official unveiling of a local memorial that is stirring.

Fire Lt. Michael Zarella of the Mendon Fire Department has made it a life passion over the past five years to plan and construct a formal memorial to his 348 colleagues on the FDNY that perished on 9/11.  The fruit of his labors was seen today, as this moving memorial was dedicated in the front lobby of the Mendon Fire Station.  The hallmark of the exhibit is a 10 foot steel beam that was once part of the World Trade Center.  The beam is twisted and ripped, complete with shredded bolts and attached concrete, all reminders of the towers' stunning collapses.  On the wall behind the beam are the names of all of the fallen FDNY first responders.  Also on the wall is a flat screen television that displays over 1600 images from that fateful day and the immediate aftermath.

During today's dedication, I was very impressed with Michael Zarella.  He is bright and articulate, and his passion for this important project clearly shines through.  He spoke with authority in describing his journey over the past five years in successfully obtaining the 1500 lb beam for this memorial.  He retold the story of his two emotional visits to Hangar 17 of JFK International Airport, the official repository for all of the World Trade Center remains.  Because of the thousands of hours he has put into research and fact-finding, his knowledge of the events of 9/11, the recovery of the WTC artifacts, and the many anecdotes of the first responders is impressive.

We are blessed to have this new memorial and Lt. Zarella as resources in our community.  As this memorial is a permanent fixture, it should be viewed by all... particularly our young people.  It is a fact that nearly half of our students in our schools were not even alive when 9/11 occurred.  Our students at Nipmuc were very young- anywhere between Pre-K to grade 2.  Their memories may be hazy at best.  I will be recommending to our principals and teachers that they bring our students to this fine memorial where appropriate.  It will reinforce and teach to our students this recent defining moment in our nations' history.

May we all never forget.