Metro

State pauses to remember victims of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

The family of Madeline "Amy" Sweeney, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, embraced after the award ceremony honoring her. It’s called the Madeline "Amy" Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery. Her daughter, Anna, is on the right.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
The family of Madeline "Amy" Sweeney, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, embraced after the award ceremony honoring her. It’s called the Madeline "Amy" Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery. Her daughter, Anna, is on the right.

In the early morning calm, the names rang out on the State House lawn, recited slowly by Governor Charlie Baker: “Stephen G. Adams. Trudi Alagero. Anna S.W. Allison. Barbara Arestegui. Myra Joy Aronson. Japhet Aryee. Louis F. Aversano Jr. Garnet ‘Ace’ Bailey.”

The solemn recitation recalled those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Along with Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston and Attorney General Maura Healey were among the guest speakers who read off the names, one by one.

It was one of the dozen ceremonies around the region that recalled the day 17 years ago that transfixed then transformed the nation.

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More than 200 victims had ties to Massachusetts. Two of the planes used in the attacks — the worst on US soil — took off from Boston, en route to Los Angeles, before they made deadly detours.

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Baker presented an American flag to members of the Massachusetts Environmental Police color guard and then watched silently as they raised and lowered the flag to half-staff while the Boston Fire Department’s a cappella quartet sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Following the mournful strain of “Taps,” a moment of silence was held at approximately 8:46 a.m., the time the first flight crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

Later, officials presented the 2018 Madeline Amy Sweeney Award to two men, Ryan Saba and Ray Armstead, who helped an elderly couple escape from their car in January seconds before the vehicle was crushed by an MBTA commuter rail train in Bridgewater during a major snowstorm.

The couple told police they were driving to the woman’s job at a nearby Papa Gino’s restaurant. The husband “admitted he didn’t hear the train or see the railroad crossing arms come down,’’ police wrote. The Good Samaritans “got them out of the [car] and just after they got off the tracks heard the thump of the train hitting the car,’’ police wrote.

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“I am so grateful for what they did, and I mean that,” Daniel Bennett, the state’s public safety secretary, told attendees. “I’ve seen the pain in families when something like that has happened. They deserve this award and they deserve our thanks.”

The award honors the flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first hijacked by the terrorists and crashed into the World Trade Center. Sweeney, then 34, who lived in Acton with her family, contacted the authorities on the ground to relay crucial information about the plane’s five hijackers.

“Amy was not thinking of herself on that day,” Rose Perkins, Sweeney’s sister, said at the ceremony. “This award helps us remember that there are so many acts of kindness and bravery all around us.”

During the afternoon, an assembly line stretched along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway as volunteers put together care packages for soldiers and veterans during the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund’s annual 9/11 Service Project.

Christie Coombs, whose husband Jeff also died on Flight 11, reflected on how each anniversary of the attacks should spread positivity and love throughout communities.

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“It’s encouraging that at least we know some people will not forget, and they will remember in a very positive light, and that’s what we want,” said Coombs, of Abington, and a board member of the Heroes Fund. “There’s something very dark and negative that caused this 17 years ago, so now as we go forward we want them remembered for all the love and positivity that came from 9/11.”

Several New England Patriots players — including Geneo Grissom, Derek Rivers, Adrian Clayborn, and Danny Shelton — filled boxes.

In the Public Garden, more than 100 people gathered around the 9/11 Memorial for a wreath-laying ceremony. White roses were laid over the memorial as families of the victims and the community remembered the lives lost and service paid.

Carolyn Sullivan of Dorchester and Maureen Penella of Rockland lost their sister, Susan MacKay of Westford, on that day. Sullivan said it’s important to celebrate the life of those lost in the 9/11 attacks and remember them in a positive way.

“It’s a positive thing through all the violence we’ve had the last 17 years,” Sullivan said. “It’s nice to be with other family members, they understand.”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.