BOSTON — September 11 is a day we will never forget, not just for the families who lost loved ones on that Tuesday morning, but also for the families who have been losing loved ones ever since.
Inside the walls of one Webster church, songs of gratitude play with memories of people lost on 9/11 and because of 9/11 in the hearts and minds of those in attendance.
"Indirectly, if not directly, to protect the country, that's what he wanted to do," said Paul and Mary Dona of Webster.
The Donas lost their son, Private First Class Christopher Dona, in combat six years ago.
"He was young, he was only nine when 9/11 happened, but he had that patriotic streak in him," his parents said. "And we wanted him to go to college, but he felt the need to go in the Army and serve his country."
On Wednesday, they honored him in a candlelit procession with other Gold Star families.
"9/11 is very significant to a lot of Gold Star families because it's the one date that you can look back on that changed your life to eventually losing your loved one in combat," said Victorria Barreras.
Eighteen years later, the healing continues in ceremonies throughout the city.
For the daughter of a flight attendant killed on Flight 11, she is currently getting her master's degree – embarking on a career in counter-terrorism, all in memory of her mother.
"I just want to do the best I can," said Anna Sweeney, the daughter of Amy Sweeney. "And it is important to me that everyone steps up and does what they can."
As the candles light up in memory, let us never forget all those who died in service to our country.
"We miss him every day, and he's never far from our thoughts," said the Donas.
Americans around the country commemorated 9/11 with mournful ceremonies, volunteering, appeals to "never forget" and rising attention to the terror attacks' extended toll on responders.
Here's a look at what else Massachusetts did to commemorate 9/11 on Wednesday.
State House Steps: Lowering of Flag, moment of silence and reading of the names of the 206 victims of 9/11 who were MA residents or MA natives.
Governor Charlie Baker will be presiding with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Martin Walsh.
Mass 9/11 Family Member Name Readers: Sally White, Pat Hoba, Iris Friedman, Sam Gordenstein, Pamela Hayes, Diane Hunt, Hannah Wyllie, Sonia Puopolo, Irene Ross and Karin Charles.
8:30am – Program begins
8:42 am – National Anthem is played. If we happen to take this live do not dump out of the anthem
8:45 am – Taps is played
8:46 am – Moment of silence marks moment AA Flight 11 crashes into World Trade Center
8:49 am - Reading of names
9:08 am – Program ends
This service includes the presentation of the 2019 Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery, presided over by Lt. Governor Polito with house speaker Robert DeLeo, Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Martin Walsh.
This year's keynote speaker will be former New England Patriot, Joe Andruzzi.
Rockland High School students who attended the 9/11 Fund's Education presentation will be serving as Volunteers to support Families throughout the day's services in support of the National Day of Service.
9:30am - House Chambers Ceremony begins
9:35am - Speaker DeLeo welcomes guests
9:50am - Keynote Speaker Joe Andruzzi
10:22am - Sweeney Award is presented to recipient
The Mass. 9/11 commemorations will conclude at the Garden of Remembrance at the Boston Public Garden for the official wreath laying ceremony presided over by Mayor Marty Walsh at 1:00 p.m. In addition, 300 white roses will be placed at the site by family members.
The foundation will pay special tribute to the first responders who deployed to Ground Zero for rescue and recovery. The Family of Craig Miller, SSI, who was killed on 9/11, will be Laying the wreath.
1:00pm: 9/11 families arrive
1:15pm: Mayor Marty Walsh arrives (other guests include Governor and Mrs. Baker, and AG Healey)
1:30pm: Bagpipes play
1:31pm: Sally White speaks
1:33pm: Prayer by Fr. Connelly
1:36pm: Mayor Walsh remarks
1:39pm: Wreath placed at memorial followed by moment of silence and bells from Arlington Street Church
1:40pm: Boston Police Department, Officer Stephen McNulty, Officer Kim Tavares
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