North Attleborough speaks on sense of duty during Sept. 11 ceremony

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Town Council Vice President John Simmons gave an impassioned speech at the Sept. 11 ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 11. His cousin, Jennifer Lynne Kane, was among those killed on Sept. 11, and his and other families who lost loved ones live with that each day. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
North Attleborough Firefighter Jake McCaffrey rang the bell, which marks the beginning and end of a shift. When a firefighter sacrifices their lives in service of others, The Last Alarm is rung in memory of their bravery. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

With a voice full of emotion, John Simmons spoke of the loss his family suffered on Sept. 11.

His cousin, Jennifer Lynn Kane, was among the 2,977 people who died that day. He told those assembled on the Baptist Church Common should remember the sadness and furious anger felt that day, but also the pride in being an American that came the after.

Simmons spoke of how Jennifer’s name lives on forever and not just through a memorial. Fundraising efforts have established a scholarship in her name at her alma mater, Villanova University, improved the softball field she played on in Plymouth, and the Girl Scout Camp where she worked and attended. In addition, that fundraising has led to dozens of wishes to the Make a Wish Foundation being granted and homes were built for troops in her name.

“At her fundraiser there was a picture signed by the first class to graduate Green Beret training after 9/11,” he said. “The look in those soldiers’ eyes told me they would never forget any of it and neither should we. Never forget and always bring forward the light.”

Fire Chief Christopher Coleman spoke of the actions taken by first responders. On that day, he said thousands were making their way to the World Trade Center and firefighters were beginning their shifts. He said Fire Chief Joseph Pfeifer was on a routine call when he heard the sound of a jet and saw commercial airliner Flight 11 strike one of the towers.

“This is a terrorist attack,” said Coleman. “The firefighters also know that this is going to be the biggest fire event”

The chief said that firefighters responding to the call acted quickly and without hesitation to make rescues.

“Please pause, remember, and never forget this tragic day,” he said.

A ringing of the bell—fifteen times each to honor those lost on 9/11—brought the ceremony to a close. The ringing of the bell marks the beginning and end of a shift. When a firefighter sacrifices their lives in service of others, The Last Alarm is rung in memory of their bravery. Members of the DAV and American Legion Auxiliary laid white roses at the town’s 9/11 memorial. Rick Mayer, a retired lieutenant colonel and a member of the Veterans Advisory Board, read a selection of the poem “Where Were You on That Day,” by George Allan.

Police Chief Richard McQuade said one way the department honors those lost is by committing themselves to securing the community. He thought of those who volunteered to help at Ground Zero or the many letters sent in by children. McQuade said he remembered the pride he felt then, just as he does now.

“When I personally think about 9/11, it’s not only the events that transpired that day, but some of the acts and the actions of people in this community, specifically members of our police department,” he said. “We felt a sense of duty to act.”