Connecticut marks 9/11 anniversary

September 11, 2011 1:25:15 PM PDT
They approached in groups and alone Sunday, holding hands in pairs or guiding their young children toward a memorial they wished had never become a part of their reality.

Scores of Connecticut residents marked the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks with a visit to Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. The names of Connecticut victims are etched in stones at a waterfront memorial there with views of Manhattan's skyline.

Ten years ago, those at the park saw smoke rising from the collapse of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.

The toll to Connecticut wouldn't be evident for days. At least 152 people with state ties were killed, including many Fairfield County residents whose families waited at local train stations with fading hopes that their loved ones would emerge among the dust-covered, weary commuters who'd escaped the chaos.

On that day, as the world changed, people visiting the memorial Sunday said they changed, too - in big and small ways - learning over the years to cope but never claiming they had reached closure.

"I'm so much more defensive now. I'm sure I will be for the rest of my life," said Todd Smith, 49, of Plainville, who led a group of motorcyclists from the Western Connecticut Harley Owners Group on a pilgrimage from Bristol to the Westport memorial.

"I've become more assertive and I speak up. I didn't before, but we got attacked - America got attacked on its own soil and we thought that would never happen again after Pearl Harbor."

Smith's feelings of becoming more wary and watchful sincic facts of 9/11 - that "some bad people hurt a lot of good people" - but is only now starting to grasp the emotional side, her mother said.

"She thinks it's really sad. We watched a show this morning about some of it, but she wanted to turn it off," Leah Jordhamo said.

The emotional side is still raw for Jordhamo, though: "I can't believe it's been 10 years. It gives me chills."