Unless you were stuck in a forest without access to a communication device the morning of 9/11, you likely remember in vivid detail what you were doing when you heard the World Trade Center Towers had collapsed. Five years later, politicians of all colors gathered at St-James United Church yesterday for a noon-hour ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks.
Among the mourning were Diana Dunham and Christina Ladouceur, who remembered the employees of Aon, a global insurance company with offices in New York and Montreal. According to Dunham, 11 of her co-workers died that day.
She and Ladouceur mourned especially the loss of their close colleagues Meredith Ewart, 29, and Peter Feidelberg, 34, Concordia graduates who were newly wed at the time of the attacks. The couple had been transferred to the company’s Manhatten office in 1999. Today, a tree is planted in their name in the McGill College office building they used to work in.
“It’s important to remember this day,” said Quebec Premier Jean Charest. “It’s important to remember those who were heroes on this day. Firemen, policemen and those who saved lives.”
Quebec’s Lieutenant Governor, Her Excellency Lise Thibault, escorted into the church by a bagpipe musician, spoke about the importance of peace within our communities.
United States consul-general in Montreal, Mary B. Marshall, expressed great gratitude to the Montreal Fire Department whose firefighters were among the many who traveled to New York to offer a helping hand. As a thank you gift, she gave a photo book, America 24/7 to some 60 firefighters present.
Firefighter Michel Amesse was among those who traveled to New York. He said we must recognize the courage and selflessness of those brave enough to run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. That morning, five years ago, a total of 343 firefighters died.
After the moment of silence and tributes were paid, the graceful sound of a cello rose to overpower the downtown street noise and console those at the memorial service.
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay commented on the numerous empty rows at the service, which has become a yearly homage. “In 2001 we were 3,000 here at the St-James United church, how many were we today?” he said with a reflective tone of voice.
Tremblay said that Canadians need to concern themselves with world issues, especially since the attacks on Americans puts Canadians in a vulnerable position.
Reverend Arlen John Bonnar led the service. Several prominent politicians were present, including Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair, former Quebec premier Pierre Marc Johnson.