Spirit of Springfield honoring first responders, victims lost on 9/11

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Spirit of Springfield held a ceremony at Riverfront Park Friday morning to honor first responders and the victims lost on September 11, 19-years-ago.

The annual ceremony has been a tradition in Springfield since 2002. Last year was the first time it was held at Riverfront Park and a large group of people was in attendance. This year’s gathering was limited to 50 people and social distancing guidelines were in place due to the ongoing pandemic.

Springfield’s September 11th monument was dedicated on June 19, 2019. It features a vertical I-beam from the World Trade Center and a curved bronze wall listing the names of the 498 first responders who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Most are firefighters from New York City and many are law enforcement officers, members of the military, and employees of the port authority of New York and New Jersey.

The monument was designed and constructed by Salmon Studios in Florence. At Friday’s ceremony, there were remembrances by the following people:

  • Springfield Fire Commissioner B. J. Calvi
  • Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood
  • Patrick Pickering, Regional Director for American Medical Response
  • Colonel Tom Bladen, Commander of the 104th Fight Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base

There were also greetings from Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and invocation by Father Gary Dailey, Chaplin for the Springfield Fire Department. Anthony Cignoli, President of A. L. Cignoli Company served as the master of ceremonies.

Commissioner Clapprood remembered the amount of pride our nation toward the first responders the weeks months and years following the attack. Although some things have changed in our society 19-years-later, she hopes one day that sense of pride can be restored.

“A lot of people in the country realized how lucky they were to have the police, the fire, the medical and how lucky we are to have a good military that we were able to bounce back from that to recover from that. We did the best we could with the tragedy at hand and we responded. People understood that and they didn’t take it for granted,” Commissioner Clapprood said.

β€œIt is with a heavy heart that we hold this limited gathering, due to the ongoing COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, to remember those who lost their lives on September 11th, including our first responders who gave the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to save others.  We wish to honor and must never forget their memory and courageous bravery. Our brave and dedicated first responders are always in our hearts and prayers, especially now as we hold this remembrance ceremony amid this current pandemic. They are the ones who are running into the buildings to save lives, while everyone else is running out.”   

-Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno

The ceremony also included the roll-out of equipment including a Springfield Police Department car, Springfield Fire Department engine, and an American Medical Response ambulance. The Springfield Fire Department tolled the fire bell, a wreath was laid by Commissioner Calvi, Commissioner Clapprood, Mr. Pickering, and Colonel Bladen.

The Springfield Police Department finished the ceremony with a rifle salute and the playing
of taps.

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