Bethel Fire & EMS ‘Peaceful Remembrance Service’ Honoring Victims of 9/11, Lost 18 Years Ago

Report by Paula Antolini, September 14, 2019, 10:45AM EDT

It was exactly 18 years ago when our nation was changed forever after an attack on the United States of America in 2001. In the tragic event 2,977 people were killed and more than 6,000 others were injured. This included 265 on the four planes (including the terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. 

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A poignant ceremony was held on the CJH Bethel Municipal Center lawn on September 11, 2019, to honor those who perished in 2001 including first responders, firefighters, police, trade center workers and those on the ground. Bethel Fire & EMS held a ‘Peaceful Remembrance Service’ Honoring Victims of 9/11. Bethel Fire & EMS, Stoney Hill FD, Bethel residents and other individuals were in attendance along with members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and members and Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) with Commander Mark Dwinells.

VIEW VIDEO of entering procession here:

The procession entered with the JROTC color guard walking up the main path of the CJH Municipal Center, followed by First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker, Selectman Straiton, Reverend David Pople, and members of Bethel Fire & EMS, as three fire trucks drove by on School Street at the same time as Bethel United Methodist Church bells rang out in melody. The JROTC colors were presented and the Pledge of Allegiance recited. The U.S. National Anthem was then sung by Bethel High School student Diana Eileen Toland Matos.

VIEW VIDEO of Pledge of Allegiance, JROTC Color Guard and Singer Diana Eileen Toland Matos here:

First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker offered a heartfelt welcome and said:

“September 11th is a day like no other on American history. I was kind of struck, I was looking at the members of our Bethel High School community who have joined us tonight, and thinking that this has gone on so long. We are at the 18th observance of the September 11th attacks, that these young people were not even born when this occurred. They’ve learned about this event through history, like many other events, and also through personal stories of people like us. Parents, relatives, they might have known victims’ families, but in another generation that too will fade away and become another historical event.

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Let us remember that September 11th has affected America literally like no other event in its history. Our first responders went to work that day, like any other day, ready to help people, ready to out out fires, ready to respond to emergencies, and in a very short period of time they became the first soldiers in a very new and terrible war that has dragged on and is now the longest war in American history.

“Those of us who were around remember every single thing about that day. We will remember what we were doing when we first heard. We will remember what we did for the rest of the day. It’s sort of like the Challenger disaster, we remember that. It’s like the day, for those of us of a certain age, we remember when president Kennedy was shot. Those things burn in your memory and they will never be lost.

“So today it is fitting that we pause to remember those who gave their lives, not only the victims but especially those first responders who became soldiers that day, u wittingly, but they were ready to respond and did their duty admirably. But let us also take this opportunity to renew our commitments, values and ideals that we hold as Americans.

“September 11th has affected America deeply. It has changed our politics, it has changed our foreign policy. So let us renew our commitment to what President Reagan said was ‘a shining city on a hill.’ Let us resist the temptations to have descended to bigotry and hatred and remember that we are all one people. So I ask that you pray for those, that you pray for our nation, that we continue to come together and heal. Thank you very much for remembering today and being with us to join in this observance. God Bless you all and God Bless America.”

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VIEW VIDEO of First Selectman’ speech here:

About 40 people attended the ceremony as temperatures rose to 86 degrees and high humidity, but officials in dress uniforms stood at attention and saluted, frozen in place to honor the victims.

“It seems the best way that we can observe the disaster that happened and our response to it is to admit that it really is beyond words,” said Reverend David Pople, “So I invite you to a minute of just plain silence. Let your thoughts wander as they will but as they do, please remember that we are keeping our mouths shut because we cannot even express what it means to us as Americans, as human beings and observe this privately.”

Heads were bowed in silence.

VIEW VIDEO of Moment of Silence here:

Afterwards, a touching prayer was read by Reverend Pople. View the prayer here:


Prayers at Bethel Town Commemoration 9/11/2019

The *Rev. David Pople, BVFD Chaplain

For the human family                                   

O God, you have made us all in your own image: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love and respect; and work through our struggles, our confusion, to accomplish your purposes on earth; that the world may be filled with your glory.

For our enemies

God, the Author of Life, show us new ways to see one another.  Lead us and lead our enemies from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; direct us toward being reconciled before we have destroyed this whole planet with our reckless ways.

For our country

Almighty One, you have given us this good land for our heritage: We ask that we may always prove ourselves to be a people mindful your favor and glad to do your will.  Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride, arrogance, and from every evil way.  Defend our liberties, and mold us into one united people  from the multitudes brought here out of many tribes and tongues. Grant wisdom to those whom we entrust the authority of government, so that we may show forth your goodness among all nations on earth.  In the times of prosperity, fill our hearts with gratitude; in the day of trouble, let our trust in you never fail; and all this for your mercy’s sake.

For the departed

We pray for all those who lost their lives on this tragic day 18 years ago.  Hold them in your memory and keeping , that neither their lives nor their deaths will have been in vain.  Continue to heal our hearts, that we may be renewed in strength to live bravely and fully despite the dangers we face from known and unknown sources.  Teach us to be mindful.

For the brave who place themselves in danger for others’ sake

Finally, O God, teach us to value the example of the many firefighters, police and other first responders who risk their lives daily to protect and save their neighbors.  Too often, they not only risk, but give their lives.  Let them live with you in victory, peace and joy for ever and ever.

A beautiful rendition of the words for “Taps” was sung by Greg Johnston and Diana Eileen Toland Matos at the end of the ceremony.

*Reverend Pople is still currently a priest of the St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church as well as Chaplain of the Bethel Volunteer Fire Department. He and retired in 2011 from the parish ministry at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Bethel.