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Time to reflect

NORTH CANAAN — It took 12 hours, and about as many volunteers. But the names of all the casualties of the terror attacks on Sept. 11,  2001, were read aloud throughout the day on Sunday, Sept. 11, at St. Joseph’s Church in North Canaan.

The Patriot Day service was sponsored by the area Knights of Columbus and was organized by a group of volunteers led by North Canaan resident Nick de Angelis, who is the area lodge’s grand knight.

The doors of St. Joseph were opened at midnight Saturday, for anyone who might want to come in and say a prayer in honor and memory of those who died 10 years ago in New York City, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon in Virginia. The church remained open until midnight Sunday.

Many area churches had commemorative services on Sunday, Sept. 11. The Rev. Diane Monte-Catania at Salisbury’s Congregational Church lit a candle that, she said, will burn until there is peace in the world.

The North Canaan church was the only one to host a day-long service on its grounds. A display was set up under a tent, with photos of the day of the attacks as well as photos and plans for the new Freedom Tower  and other buildings rising now at what was known for most of the last decade as Ground Zero. It’s a chance to look toward the future, said David Soper, who was one of the volunteers who helped put together the display.

“People often say, ‘How long can you continue to memorialize something that happened so long ago,” Soper said. Thinking about the new monuments and buildings provides an eye toward the future.

But, he said, “You see people come in every year and read the displays and look at the photos, and you see them get tears in their eyes. You ask them about it and they tell you they lost someone in the attacks. It still has a lot of meaning to them. It makes this all worthwhile.”

In the morning, as the names flowed quietly from the loudspeakers, members of the First Litchfield Artillery Regiment periodically shot off a loud, smokey blast from the company’s antique cannon. Jason McGarry of Salisbury played the bagpipe in the morning. In the afternoon, the mournful instrument was played by Nancy Fellinger, a Simsbury resident who is a citizen member of the Waterbury Police Pipes and Drums.

Her rendition of “Amazing Grace” punctuated a ceremony put on at 1 p.m. by volunteer members of the North Canaan, Lakeville and Sharon fire departments. Lakeville Hose Co. Chief Jason Wilson went down to the World Trade Center to offer assistance in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks. He spoke briefly to the firefighters standing at attention under a massive American flag fluttering from the top of a North Canaan ladder truck.

On this 10th anniversary of what he called “the most tragic day in our history,” Wilson said, “We reflect and remember the first responders, men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice, doing the job they loved and were sworn to do: answering the call of someone in need.”

There wasn’t a large crowd sitting in the folding chairs on the lawn outside St. Joseph’s. But as Wilson finished his brief speech, the firefighters saluted and Fellinger began to play the pipes, everyone there held hands with a loved one or wiped away a tear.

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