A clear, cool morning ushered in the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Members of Fairfield's fire and police departments, as well as local and state officials gathered at fire headquarters to remember those who lost their lives that day at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania.
"Today is the eleventh anniversary of the most devastating attack on America," Fire Chief Richard Felner said in his opening remarks. "Time will not, and cannot, heal these wounds, because they are too deep."
"Our duty is to be vigilant as a nation and never let this happen again."
Fire and police officials paid tribute to their fellow first responders -- to the 343 firefighters, 34 police officers, 20 EMTs who lost their lives on September 11 -- "the heroes," Police Chief Gary MacNamara said.
"We remember the heroes who died, those who were injured, those who survived but put their lives at risk to save others."
Those heroes, MacNamara said, did not come out of nowhere to respond to the World Trade Center attacks. They were there on September 10, 2001. They are here today, on September 11, 2012.
"There were the mothers and fathers and daughters and sons who said, 'this is the life for me, I want to help'," MacNamara said.
"They are hear to answer the calls both big and small, those heroes working every day to keep us safe. They'll be here every day, answering your calls, preparing for the worst, and praying -- like you -- that the worst will never come."
While Felner and MacNamara remembered the heroes of September 11, Judge Daniel Caruso and Emergency Services Chaplain Father Charles Allen also recalled America's very first responders.
Allen encouraged the public to pay a visit to the Soldiers Monument in Milford Cemetery. The monument marks a mass grave of 46 Patriots.
In January of 1777, Allen said, a British ship dumped 200 smallpox-ridden Patriot soldiers on a beach in Milford. The soldiers were cared for at Milford's town hall -- 154 were nursed back to health, but 46 perished.
"They died fighting for our new nation. We must never forget the first responders of September 11, but they were the very first responders," Allen said. "Sacrifice is very much a part of our nation's history."
Caruso recalled the patriots of Revolutionary America as well, the men and women who fought for "certain unalienable rights" that defined the birth of this nation.
"There are evil men and woman out there who would do anything to stop that advance,' Caruso said. "We will continue to defend liberty and equality when we can."
"We know this struggle will continue, and so will we," Caruso continued. "We are grateful to the Fairfield responders who rushed to the scene, and to those who stayed here to keep the town safe."