In the immediate wake of the horror of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, New Canaan’s highest elected official recalled Tuesday, “blindsided and fearing the worst, America delivered its best.”
“Americans fought back—with faith, courage, sacrifice and love,” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan told more than 100 local emergency responders, municipal workers, residents and elected and appointed officials gathered in the north entrance to Town Hall during the town’s annual remembrance ceremony.
“People didn’t run from danger, they rushed to it. Strangers helped strangers. First responders climbed stairways to heaven. Priests risked death to comfort and administer last rites. In New Canaan, Eugenie Diserio recounted how every member of our ambulance corps came to headquarters, loaded up their rigs and volunteered to drive to Ground Zero. One crew was dispatched. The first reactions were followed by enduring commitments and contributions.”
Moynihan noted that the parents of a young New Canaan who died in the attacks, Brad Fetchet, Mary and Frank Fetchet, founded Voices of September 11th, “and spearheaded a national effort to remember, recover and prepare for the future.”
“Eamon McEneaney’s soulmate, Bonnie, authored a book, ‘Messages: Signs, Visits and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11,’ documenting how bonds of love transcended death to console those left behind. Today, Joe Coppo’s name is memorialized on our baseball field and scoreboard in Waveny Park. This spirit that emboldens and unites us is part of our birthright, and deep in our DNA. It makes us proud to be Americans.”
The New Canaan Emergency Services Memorial Ceremony commenced at 9:59 a.m., the same time that the South Tower or “Two World Trade Center” fell 17 years ago. During the ceremony, the New Canaan Police Department Honor Guard posted the colors, New Canaan’s Lisalynne Kirkpatrick sang “God Bless America,” the Rev. Eric Fjeldal of the United Methodist Church led those gathered in prayer, Fire Chief Jack Hennessey called for 10 seconds of silence to remember the three New Canaan men lost in the attacks, fire officials rang a bell 5-5-5—a pattern used during the telegraph era to signal that a firefighter has died in the line of duty— and a wreath was laid at a memorial that stands outside the New Canaan firehouse, a 16-foot section from the floor of Tower One on the 99th floor, just above the impact point of United flight 175.
As Hennessey explained, the base of the memorial is in the shape of a pentagon and dirt from Shanksville, Penn. is buried beneath the base.
“For all Americans for all time, the phrase ‘9/11’ will hold a special meaning in memory of a moment in our history when the world as we knew it changed forever,” Hennessey said. “Each of us remembers where we were that morning, one of the worst days that brought out the best in all of us.”
Those in attendance recognized by Hennessey included state Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-125th), state Sen. Scott Frantz (R-36th) and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th).
Fjeldal led a litany during which those gathered uttered the words “We remember them” in unison: “In the rising of the sun and its going down (we remember them),” it began. At one point the litany continued, “When we are weak and weary and in need of strength (we remember them). When we are lost and sick at heart (we remember them). When we have joys that we yearn to share (we remember them).”
Moynihan in his remarks remembered Coppo, Fetchet and McEneaney specifically, saying “each was a treasure to our town.”
“Joe Cappo, then 46, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald,” Moynihan said. “A baseball enthusiast, Joe was beloved by his family, and by his ball players aspiring to be great in Coach Joe’s eyes. Brad Fetchet, then 24, worked for Keefe, Bruyette and Woods. A star ice hockey and lacrosse player at New Canaan High School and Bucknell, for those who knew him Brad’s kind smile and gentle nature brightened our days and warmed our hearts. Eamon McEneaney, then 46, also worked for Cantor Fitzgerald; family man, poet and former All-American lacrosse player for Cornell.”
They were “three shining souls among nearly 3000 innocent people whose lives were taken on September 11, 2001, just because they showed up for work—all slain by extremists from a foreign land driven to kill and inflict as much mayhem on America as they could.”
Yet the nation rallied and the story of those lost did not end on Sept. 11, 2001, Moynihan said.
“Families of New Canaan can make sure their children learn the lessons of 9/11,” he said. “Citizens can honor the fallen by rededicating ourselves to their high purpose. Each of us can serve and contribute as we can—to help make our town, our community and our country stronger, safer and better. As we do, we’ll hold our heroes in our hearts. We’ll always remember. God bless Joe, Brad, Eamon, and all the 9/11 victims and their families. And God bless America.”