LYNNFIELD FIREFIGHTERS salute the American flag while honoring the victims and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks during First Responders Day on Sept. 11. (Dan Tomasello Photo)
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Three hundred residents came together on the Town Common last Saturday in order to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Town Administrator Rob Dolan served as the master of ceremonies for this year’s First Responders Day. He thanked residents, firefighters, police officers and local officials for attending the ceremony.
“Today is a difficult day for our nation, our country, our state and our community as we remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Dolan. “We mourn and we remember, and many of us remain angry about what happened on that day. We also feel appreciation, respect and give thanks to our first responders of the Lynnfield Police Department and the Lynnfield Fire Department. I must say that I have never met a more committed, professional and capable group of men and women than those in both departments.”
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Pastor/Fire Department Chaplain Rev. Robert Bacon gave the invocation during First Responders Day.
“Twenty years ago today, 2,977 people from 93 different nations lost their lives in New York City, at the Pentagon and on Flight 93 due to the four coordinated terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda against the United States of America,” said Rev. Bacon. “Today, we pause to remember that moment of horror and pray for those left scarred by those terrible events. We remember the way our thoughts and prayers were with those families who lost loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are with them again today. We remember those who survived and recall their heartbreaking stories. Our thoughts and prayers are with them again today.”
Bacon also thanked the town’s first responders for keeping the community “safe and free from harm.”
“Their selfless devotion to duty inspires this community,” said Rev. Bacon.
Firefighter/EMT David Marengi rang a bell and Firefighter/Paramedic Anthony Metrano recited the Firefighters Prayer in order to remember the 343 New York City firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center 20 years ago. Lynnfield Firefighters also lowered the American flag to half-staff while “Taps” was played.
After Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts led attendees with reciting “The Pledge of Allegiance,” Lynnfield resident and Boston Bruins anthem singer Todd Angilly sang a moving rendition of “The National Anthem.”
Select Board Chairman Dick Dalton recalled that more than 6,000 people were injured during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in addition to the 2,977 people who lost their lives. He noted that the death toll from 9/11 continues to rise 20 years later.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control World Trade Health Center Program, more people have died from toxic exposure at Ground Zero than in the attacks,” said Dalton.
A lot of numbers, but numbers don’t tell the story. Each one of those victims was a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister and spouse. Each left behind loved ones. Each had a story.”
Dalton recalled that Lynnfield lost two members of the community on 9/11, including retired Boston Bruins left wing Garnet “Ace” Bailey. His widow, Kathy, attended the ceremony.
“I remember my daughter Stacey calling me that morning and telling me that Ace Bailey may have been on a plane that crashed into one of the towers,” said Dalton. “Later that day, it was confirmed that he was aboard United Airlines Flight 175, the plane that crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He died at the age of 53, leaving behind his wife Kathy and son Todd. He played 11 years in the National Hockey League, and was a scout for 20 years after he retired as a player. He played five years with the Boston Bruins, during which time the team won two Stanley Cups.”
Dalton noted that Bailey and retired NHL superstar Wayne Gretzky formed a lifelong friendship that began while they were teammates on the Edmonton Oilers.
“In the years that followed, when The Great One, as Gretzky was called, had a game in Boston, he didn’t stay at the team hotel,” said Dalton. “He stayed down the street at the Bailey home on Ivanhoe Drive. Ace’s personality was larger than life, and he had the ability to light up a room like no one I have ever met.”
Dalton also noted that Lynnfield native Sean Patrick Lynch passed away in the World Trade Center at the age of 34.
“He attended Huckleberry Hill School, was a graduate of St. John’s Prep and Boston College,” said Dalton. “He had just been promoted to senior vice president of equity trading at the prestigious firm of Cantor Fitzgerald, where he occupied an office on the 104th floor. He along with 657 colleagues perished that day. He was a young man who was positioned for a long and successful career in finance. But more importantly, his friends and colleagues remember him as a special young man. He was one you couldn’t forget his smile, his warmth, how polite he was and how he was fun to be with. Sean was survived by his parents, John and Margaret, who were parishioners at Our Lady of Assumption Church. Additionally, he left behind four siblings.”
Dalton also paid tribute to late U.S. Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, who was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing outside of Kabul’s airport last month. The 25-year-old’s body was transported to a Lawrence funeral home after First Responders Day took place.
“She was a young woman who shared her Marine salary with her mother and sisters,” said Dalton. “Keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.”
While Dalton said the U.S. is “not a perfect nation by any means,” he said people should “never forget that we are in fact the brightest beacon.”
“And the best way we can honor those who were taken from us is to work together to make that beacon even brighter,” said Dalton. “God Bless those who perished and their families, and God Bless America.”
Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Glenn Davis said the U.S. suffered “a severe blow” on 9/11.
“Twenty years after our nation was attacked, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 may be fading in the minds of many Americans, but for those of us in the fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services or the military, the memories of the terrorist attacks that took so many lives remains fresh,” said Davis.
Davis said firefighters get a “distinct feeling” when they arrive at an incident and know “it’s going to be bad and they might not make it home.”
“I have no doubt that the men and women who responded to the World Trade Center that day had that feeling as they got off their fire apparatus and stepped out of their police cruisers to do what they had to do,” said Davis. “They had that feeling, and yet they went ahead anyway.”
Davis recalled that retired FDNY Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer was the first chief officer who arrived at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
“In the lobby of the North Tower, Chief Pfeifer gave orders to arriving firefighters, including to the lieutenant of FDNY Engine 33,” said Davis. “He ordered that lieutenant to take Engine 33’s crew up to the 70th floor of the burning tower to help people evacuate. That lieutenant on Engine 33 was Kevin Pfeifer, who was the brother of Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer. Lt. Kevin Pfeifer, along with the entire crew of Engine 33, died that day. His brother never saw him again. This is the meaning of sacrifice and selflessness. This is the meaning of service.”
Davis said the common bond that brings first responders together is their “commitment to service.”
“The Lynnfield Fire Department will continue to serve whenever Lynnfield residents call us,” said Davis. “We will never forget the ultimate sacrifices that were made on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Acting Police Chief Nick Secatore said the 9/11 terrorist attacks “changed our country and world forever.”
“The impact continues to this day,” said Secatore. “Most of us can say we have been impacted directly by the events or know someone who was directly impacted. This shows how pervasive it has been to this country. It is important to share this with future generations who did not live through the event as it occurred like many of us did.”
Secatore recalled that retired FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Branch Chief Fred Endrikat stated that a number of people showed up at Ground Zero after the attacks because they “just wanted to help.”
“Some of those who went to Ground Zero to help in the days and weeks after were exposed to chemicals in the debris and in the air, which led to lifelong illness and further loss of life,” said Secatore. “They too were victims, their families are victims, and we will all have to live with that for the rest of our lives and the rest of their lives. They are real world examples of heroes.”
In addition to remembering the victims and survivors of 9/11, Secatore said it’s important for people to remember the selfless heroism demonstrated by first responders.
“The people who are first responders only think of the people they serve,” said Secatore. “Selfless sacrifice is an every day occurrence for them. That is what we saw 20 years ago today and what we will see again in the future.”
After Rev. Bacon gave the closing prayer, Angilly led attendees during a performance of “God Bless America.” Attendees were then treated to a cookout.