Ceremony unites those affected by 9/11 and Marathon bombings
Anna Sweeney was only 5 when her mother died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and wishes she remembered her better. Sometimes she flips through scrapbooks her mother made and watches old home videos, just to hear her voice and see her face.
Sweeney’s mother, Madeline Amy Sweeney, was an American Airlines flight attendant who called ground services to alert them that the plane she was on had been hijacked. Her family remembers her heroism with a deep sense of pride, Anna said.
At memorials across the region, the victims of Sept. 11 were remembered in familiar rituals, the solemn reading of names, prayers and moments of silence, the tolling of church bells. But this year’s remembrances, set against the painful backdrop of the Boston Marathon bombings, carried a renewed sense of loss, relatives said.
The Marathon bombings “brought back all those memories,” said Laura Ogonowski, 28, whose father, American Airlines pilot John Ogonowski, died in the attacks. “Such innocent people going about their everyday life.”
In a morning ceremony, Ogonowski and other relatives of 9/11 victims placed a wreath of white roses at the Garden of Remembrance in Boston’s Public Garden. More than 200 people killed in the terrorist attacks had ties to Massachusetts.
Ogonowski said the pain of losing her father, the captain of the first flight to hit the World Trade Center, has not subsided.
“Every year that passes is another year we are not with our father,” she said. “We miss him every day.”
At the State House ceremony, Carlos Arredondo received an award for civilian bravery, given in Sweeney’s name, for his response to the Marathon bombings.
From his seat in the finish line bleachers, Arredondo rushed into the cloud of smoke and applied tourniquets to the legs of an injured spectator, Jeff Bauman. Famously captured in photographs wearing a cowboy hat, Arredondo then rushed Bauman through the chaos to the medical tent.
As he made his way to the podium to receive his award, Arredondo embraced Bauman in a poignant scene that drew a standing ovation. He also crossed the stage to shake hands with Bill Richard, whose son Martin, 8, was killed in the Marathon bombings.
“Amy Sweeney would have said she was just doing her job,” Arredondo said. “On April 15, I was just doing my duty.”
In a rare public appearance, Richard read an inspirational message and thanked organizers for “sharing their day” with victims of the Marathon attacks.