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.
“She never failed to make people smile,” Sweeney recalled Wednesday at a State House ceremony commemorating the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
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.’’
Like Ogonowski, Charles Coombs, 81, comes to the ceremony at the garden each year, to remember his son Jeffrey.
“I just think that if it was reversed, if it was me on the plane instead of Jeffrey, he’d be here for me,’’ Coombs said, blinking back tears. “I know he’d come for me.’’
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. “May God bless us all,” he said.
Edward F. Davis, the Boston police commissioner, said that the Sept. 11 attacks left a loss that “continues to this day” and that the Marathon bombings were a cruel echo.
“Just a few months ago on the streets of Boston, that tragedy revisited us,” he said. “This is more than a crime. This is an attack on our way of life.”
By refusing to abandon everyday routines, Davis said, people stand in defiance of terrorism.
At the Marathon finish line Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of police officers observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Marathon bombings and the Sept. 11 attacks. Officers from as far away as Florida and Colorado had participated in the Tour De Force 9/11 Memorial Bike Ride from Ground Zero to Copley Square.
The last leg of the ride was dedicated to MIT police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed on April 18, allegedly by the Marathon bombers. Ride organizers pledged a total of $40,000 to the Sean Collier Memorial Fund to help send prospective officers to a police academy.
Collier’s sister, Jennifer Lemmerman, said she feels the loss of her brother every day. But the family’s closeness has helped them weather the months since his death.
“Every day is a little bit different, and different things make me miss him in different ways,” she said. “It’s still just as painful today, I think, as it was in April, but we try to recover together and do the best we can.”
At the Public Garden, neighbors Sharon Toulotte and Civia Rosenberg watched the memorial ceremony from a distance. Rosenberg said she had visited the Garden of Remembrance to pray for a peaceful resolution with Syria and reflect on the Marathon bombings.
Toulotte and Rosenberg talked about the dark path taken by the alleged Marathon bombers. “What goes wrong?” asked Rosenberg, 70. “What creates terrorism?”
Toulotte, 55, said she visits the memorial often, sometimes plucking the weeds that grow around it. On a day when memories of two violent events seemed to merge into a collective sadness, she was struck by Boston’s connection to both.
“It all hits very close to home,” she said.