In Bolton and other ‘small town USA’ cities throughout Connecticut, people come together to remember 9/11

·3 min read

“Where were you on Sept. 11?”

The question hung heavy in the air. A pause, a breath, a reflective silence — and then the floodgates opened.

Just 130 miles from Ground Zero, stories of fear, grief and uncertainty filled the Bolton Volunteer Fire Department as the crowd gathered to remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks and recalled their memories from 21 years ago.

Bolton Volunteer Fire Chief Bruce Dixon said that after more than 10 years of speaking at Bolton’s 9/11 commemorative event, he wanted to hear from the people. He said this was his first time posing a question to the memorial service attendees.

“You always hear different stories,” Dixon said.

In her speech to the crowd, Bolton First Selectman Pamela Sawyer shared what 9/11 was like through her daughter’s eyes.

Sawyer’s daughter was a student at Bolton High School on Sept. 11, 2001. When her principal shared news of an aircraft hitting the North Tower, she walked out of her classroom and headed to the TVs in the school library. Her father was a helicopter pilot out of New York City, and she had to know he was safe.

“It was the same sense of urgency felt around the country,” Sawyer said. “There she was, skipping class for the first time ever watching the day’s tragic events unfold. Each hour, joined by more and more students to watch the horror.”

As she spoke, Sawyer looked to the band and choir students who came from Bolton High School to perform for the memorial. The students are not just too young to remember 9/11, they were born years after the terrorist attacks changed the country forever.

Sisters Grace and Hannah Osborne sang “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner’ for the memorial. They said the memorial service made them emotional and solidified the significance of 9/11.

“We weren’t alive when that happened, but we should and we need to be able to know what happened so that we can keep remembering the people who lost their lives that day,” high school freshman Grace Osborne said.

“Someday, there’s not going to be people who were alive during 9/11, and it’s important for us to keep passing that on and [one day] teaching our kids everything,” Hannah Osborne, a high school senior, added.

In addition to honoring the 2,996 people who died in the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Pennsylvania field, Bolton honored the hometown heroes, first responders and service men and women who served and continue to protect the country.

State Sen. Steve Cassano addressed the crowd, describing Bolton as a “Small town U.S.A.” In his speech, he related the close-knit nature of small communities to the way Americans came together as a nation after 9/11.

“That’s sometimes the best thing about a tragedy. In a tragedy sometimes we become one. We work as one. We become a team. As long as we continue to do that, we’ll have a better America,” Cassano said.