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Springfield Hosts Annual Tribute To 9/11 First Responders

   Springfield, Massachusetts joined communities large and small across the country today that held ceremonies to mark the 17th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  By next year, the city will have a permanent 9-11 monument installed.

   On an overcast morning, the solemn ceremony included the sounding of emergency sirens, the ringing of bells, and a mournful bagpipe.

   A wreath was laid, rifles were fired in salute, and off in the distance a trumpeter played “Taps.”

   The remembrance ceremony was held at the Raymond Sullivan Public Safety Complex. It was dressed with more than 20 American flags.  A 20-foot by 38-foot Garrison flag on loan from the Springfield Armory was suspended between two ladder trucks.

  "We gather annually to remember, to mourn and to honor those who swore an oath to public service:the first responders," Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri said to an audience of about 50 people.

    Barbieri co-hosted the tribute with Springfield Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi.

   "Another 1,400 people have lost their lives since 9/11," said Calvi.  "Many of the rescue workers who worked ( in the rubble of the World Trade Center) for months afterwards came down with cancer and died. I think they need to be remembered on this day."

   Mayor Domenic Sarno vowed that the city would always remember the first responders, and “innocent civilians” who lost their lives.

    "Springfield is always proud to stand for our country and make sure we always remember when an ultimate sacrifice is paid," said Sarno.

    Next year, the city plans to hold the annual tribute in Riverfront Park where a permanent 9/11 monument is being installed. 

    The hope was to have the memorial, which includes a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, in place by now.  But because an extensive renovation of the park is still going on, it was decided not to rush the memorial project, according to Frank Colaccino, chairman of the September 11 Monument Committee.

   " The ground has been broken for the memorial. The memorial is being fabricated and built and yes, next year we will have this ceremony over at Rivefront Park," said Colaccino.

    He said the committee has raised 85 percent of its goal of $300,000 for the memorial.

     " I am very confident that we will get there," said Colaccino when asked about reaching the fund raising goal.

    The monument will feature an i-beam from the World Trade Center.  It will stand vertically in front of a curved bronze wall with the names of 498 first responders. Spotlights on the beam will cast the shadow of the Twin Towers on the wall.



Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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