Marblehead solemnly marked the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks Monday morning with a Memorial Park observance.
About 115 people attended the observance that featured remarks from local officials, prayers led by clergy and the laying of a wreath to honor the nearly 3,000 victims who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Twenty-two years to the day, 19 al Qaeda terrorists murdered 2,977 men, women and children at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a quiet field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania,” said Marblehead Fire Chief Jason Gilliland.
Gilliland noted the ceremony aimed to remember the “innocent victims” of 9/11, including three Marblehead residents who died that day: Frederick Rimmele, William Weems and Erik Hans Isbrandtsen.
Participants also honored the 343 New York City firefighters, 60 police officers and other first responders who rushed to the scenes and sacrificed their lives trying to save others.
Three local service members who died in the ensuing global war on terrorism — Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Piper, Marine 2nd Lt. Christopher Shay and Army Sgt. Rachel McKay — were also recognized at the ceremony.
Gilliland said it was important to hold commemorations like the one in Marblehead even as 9/11 fades deeper into history, so younger generations understand the grief and unity that emerged after the attacks.
“It is our sacred duty to ensure that coming generations understand both the tremendous grief and unbreakable national unity evoked by each passing anniversary of September 11th,” Gilliland said.
Other speakers included Police Chief Dennis King, who recalled his own memories of the day and highlighted the selfless heroism of police officers, firefighters and everyday people at the attack sites.
“For the entire nation, we also take the time to acknowledge the first responders who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their own lives, trying to save others. Without hesitation. Men and women of the NYFD, NYPD and emergency services entered a hell on earth and saved people,” said King.
He also acknowledged the long-term health impacts suffered by those involved in the cleanup efforts.
“We also remember and support the families of the victims and the victims of the massive cleanup efforts that have passed since and continue to suffer health effects,” he added.
King spoke to the collective trauma and resilience of the American people: “On this day, here together, I believe we are healing that unique trauma that each of us have felt, and that is very powerful.”
The morning’s events included the lowering of a flag to half-staff, a moment of silence, prayers led by local clergy, the ringing of a bell and the raising of the flag at the end.
Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School students crafted the wreath that Select Board Chair Erin Noonan laid next to the town’s 9/11 memorial.
Marblehead resident Rose Ann Wheeler McCarthy, who said she has attended every 9/11 anniversary ceremony hosted by the town, was among those in the audience Monday.
She said commemorations help her cope with traumatic memories of the day. “You can’t forget it,” McCarthy said. “It just brings back all the memories.”