GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 10, 2013

Gloucester opting out of 9/11 memorial

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — It’s been 12 years now since jets hijacked by terrorists slammed into New York’s World Trade Center, The Pentagon outside Washington, and into a field in western Pennsylvania.

And memorials are planned across Cape Ann on Wednesday to reflect and remember the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that left more than 3,000 dead.

But Gloucester is not among them.

Unlike other years, Gloucester has opted out of a public memorial service, usually hosted by Gloucester firefighters at the School Street station, to honor those who died and aided in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Gloucester Fire Chief Eric Smith, after speaking to fellow firefighters, recommended that a public memorial service not be held this year in favor of an internal department recognition for those firefighters and other rescuers who died during and in the aftermath of the attacks — including passengers on two planes that flew that morning out of Logan International Airport.

Smith said there will be a moment of silence, and perhaps a prayer and message or two within the Fire Department, but there will be no public service or presentation.

“The consensus is it’s probably kind of time to bring things down a little bit,” he said.

Smith said this is not the first time there have been talks about keeping the 9/11 memorial service or remembrance internal.

“It’s kind of something we talked about over a lot of years,” he said.

He said that, considering the 10th anniversary of the terrorist event has come and gone (in 2011), the timing was right to make the change this year.

“It’s a difficult thing to continue to do,” he said.

Cape Ann’s towns, however, are going ahead with programs and services similar to those they’ve also hosted in the past.

Rockport will hold a memorial service on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at its Fire Department at 37 Broadway, with Deacon James Koerth of the First Baptist Church of Rockport officiating. Koerth has also served as an emergency medical technician in Rockport and is the chaplain’s aide for the Fire Department.

Koerth said he believes these types of memorials are still relevant, and have a significant impact on Rockport by drawing the community together.

While the terrorist attacks are still etched into everyone’s mind, Koerth said the most important things to remember are the acts of heroism and sacrifice made 12 years ago.

“We are still vulnerable, and still under the cloud of terrorism,” he said.

In Manchester, there will be a ceremony at 9:45 a.m. at the fire station on School Street between firefighters and police officers, with Rev. David Forsythe of the First Baptist Church of Manchester speaking.

That service and the one in Essex coincide with the timing of the 2011 terrorist attacks.

The Essex service will be at 9:55 a.m. at the Essex Memorial Fire Station on Martin Street. The short service will allow people to reflect and remember those who died and aided in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, retired firefighters and the public all encouraged to attend.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.