Mass. Marks 9/11 Anniversary

Download Audio

Reported by Fred Bever

BOSTON — The more than 200 people with direct ties to Massachusetts who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were remembered Tuesday.

Elected officials, 9/11 families and ordinary citizens marked the day at Boston's Public Garden and at the State House.

On an achingly clear and beautiful morning, more than 200 people gathered at the Public Ggarden's 9/11 memorial, talking quietly, hugging, a few crying, some catching up after time apart.

Christie Coombs of Abington, whose husband Jeffrey died in the attacks, said even 11 years later, the hurt is still raw.

"People say this is a non-milestone year, but for the family members it doesn't matter whether it's the first, the fifth the 10th or the 11th," Coombs said. "It feels the same. We still woke up without our loved ones there; our kids woke up without their father; I woke up without my husband."

Coombs and family members were up front as a white rose wreath was placed beside the memorial. Elected officials, like Sen. Scott Brown, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Attorney General Martha Coakley, were also in attendance. Coombs said their presence at rituals like this are more than just symbolic for her family.

Bill Downey of West Roxbury was one of those supporters who attended the garden ceremony.

"I believe it not too much of a job to get up and get over here and show your respect and hopefully we can keep up the good work," Downey said. "It was never that hard for me, but I feel it's good to come over here - it's good for me, good for the country I hope."

Many of the families gathered at the State House steps and somberly watched as the U.S. flag was lowered to half-mast. Then they took turns reading the names of the Massachusetts residents and natives who died in the attacks.


Inside the State House, Iris Friedman, of Brighton, said she's made a habit of attending 9/11 ceremonies. She said they help grieve for her son, Paul Friedman, who was on American Airlines Flight 11.

"I come here almost every year. When I don't come here I go to New York ... it means the world to me," she said, adding that as the years go by, 9/11 families who've gotten to know each other and spent time in support groups together are seeing each other less often. The annual events, she said, provide a chance to commune together on a deeply felt, common experience.

"It's something that you might look forward to in an odd sort of way every year," she said. "And it also ties off the run up from ... I think for most 9/11 families the season, if you will, starts on Sept. 1, and the tension builds on the 11. I won't say it's closure. But it marks the end of the intense mourning period."

In the House chamber, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray awarded the 11th annual Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for civilian bravery. It's named for a flight attendant from Acton who was on Flight 11 and made calls from the hijacked plane to warn authorities to the emergency's true nature.

The award's recipient, Wakefield resident Paul Antonino, was honored for rushing into a burning building this year, breaking down doors, and alerting residents to what became a seven-alarm blaze.

This article was originally published on September 11, 2012.

This program aired on September 11, 2012.


More from WBUR

Listen Live