New Canaan Fire Chief Albert Bassett was asked recently about the meaning of “Never Forget,” a phrase that came into common usage following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Though images of that day, when nearly 3,000 people died, including 412 first responders and three New Canaan men—Joe Coppo and Eamon McEneaney, both 46, and Brad Fetchet, 24—are just a click away online, the phrase itself “truly comes from the heart,” according to Bassett.
“It comes from the soul,” he told more than 75 people gathered out front of Town Hall on a picture-perfect late summer day for New Canaan’s annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony.
“To emergency services and military personnel, never forget the danger of the job that we do. We put ourselves in jeopardy every time we’re asked to help somebody. There have been dozens of events since 9/11, both foreign and domestic, that we have responded to, and the first responders know the dangers of both physical injury and emotional injury from these events. We also never forget the dedication that we serve, that we provide our citizens. We selflessly respond to these emergencies upon request. It’s in our blood. It’s in our DNA to do that. And that’s dedication. And we never forget the honor that we have to serve you as our community. We take an oath to do that. We take an oath to protect and we’re always there for you when you do call. We cherish that honor.”
Dozens of members of the New Canaan Police Department, New Canaan Fire Department and New Canaan Emergency Medical Services joined fellow municipal workers and elected officials, as well as local clergy, residents and veterans for the solemn ceremony.
It included prayers led by the Rev. David Roman of St. Aloysius Church, comments from First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, presentation of the U.S. flag by the New Canaan Police Department Color Guard, a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” EMT Nancy Upton singing “God Bless America,” and placement of a wreath in front of the firehouse across Main Street that included three carnations, representing each of the deceased local men. There at the New Canaan Fire Department stands a 16-foot section from the floor of World Trade Center Tower One on the 99th floor, just above the impact point of United flight 175. 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.
Moynihan remembered Coppo, McEneaney and Fetchet, as follows:
“Joe Coppo, then 46 years old, was the beloved husband of Kathleen, father of four children and a beloved baseball coach, for whom Coppo Field is named at Waveny Park. Joe worked as a municipal bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald near the top of World Trade Center Tower Two. As Mike Lupica wrote about Joe two weeks after he died: ‘Every town, if it is lucky, has somebody like Joe, the guy who doesn’t just want to coach his own kids, but all the kids.’ ”
“Eamon McEneaney, also then 46 years old, was the beloved husband of Bonnie McEaneany-McNamara, father of four children and former All-American lacrosse player for Cornell. Eamon also worked for Cantor Fitzgerald as a senior vice president. Eamon was also a writer and a poet whose poems were published posthumously by the Cornell University Library with the title of ‘A Bend in the Road.’ ”
“Brad Fetchet, then 24 years old, was the beloved son of Mary and Frank Fetchet, co-founders of the Voices of September 11th Foundation, now known as the ‘Voices Center for Resilience’ here in New Canaan, brother of Chris and Wes, and a former star ice hockey and lacrosse player at New Canaan High School and Bucknell. Brad had just recently started working for Keefe, Bruyette and Woods as an equities trader on the 89th floor of World Trade Center Tower Two. For those who knew Brad, his kind smile and gentle nature brightened our lives.”
Bassett said that we should never forget “the happiness that Brad brought to others.”
“Brad would surprise his family with gifts, randomly give gifts, whether it was CDs or setting up electronics for his mom,” Bassett said. “It brought him happiness to do that. So those are reasons why we should never forget. On a personal note, I’ll never forget the solidarity we had that day and the days after 9/11. We were one. We were one country. Our differences didn’t matter. It didn’t matter our age, our gender. It didn’t matter if we were career or we were volunteer in the services. None of that mattered. We all came to help. So I look at it as we pledge ‘one allegiance under God.’ So thank you for that moment.”