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Families Gather At Westport Beach To Remember 9/11 Victims

Mary Henwood at the state's 9/11 memorial ceremony at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. She lost her son John in the 9/11 attack.
Mary Henwood at the state's 9/11 memorial ceremony at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. She lost her son John in the 9/11 attack. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Emma Hunt, 15, second from left, who lost her father William Hunt of Norwalk in the 9/11 attacks, looks at her aunt Debra Woodward on Thursday at the state's 9/11 Memorial in Westport. Woodward's children Colin, 10, and Molly, 7, are also pictured.
Emma Hunt, 15, second from left, who lost her father William Hunt of Norwalk in the 9/11 attacks, looks at her aunt Debra Woodward on Thursday at the state's 9/11 Memorial in Westport. Woodward's children Colin, 10, and Molly, 7, are also pictured. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Gov. Dannel Malloy prepare to place flowers at the state memorial at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Gov. Dannel Malloy prepare to place flowers at the state memorial at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Patricia Mansfield of East Lyme photographs the plaque for her brother Timothy John "T.J." Hargrave.
Patricia Mansfield of East Lyme photographs the plaque for her brother Timothy John "T.J." Hargrave. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Family members place white roses on the names of those who died in the 9/11 attacks during the ceremony Thursday evening in Westport.
Family members place white roses on the names of those who died in the 9/11 attacks during the ceremony Thursday evening in Westport. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Paul Kirwin, chairman of the Fund for 9/11 Living Memorial, lived in Weston in 2001 but moved to New Rochelle, N.Y., to be closer to his grandchildren after his son's death.
Paul Kirwin, chairman of the Fund for 9/11 Living Memorial, lived in Weston in 2001 but moved to New Rochelle, N.Y., to be closer to his grandchildren after his son's death. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Two plaques at the 9/11 Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
Two plaques at the 9/11 Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

WESTPORT, Conn. — Even 14 years after his death in the terror attacks on the World Trade Center, the mother of a 9/11 victim said his verve for life continues to inspire her.

Ridgefield's Mary Henwood said her son, John, would compare life to a ticket and sometimes wonder why people didn't make full use of it.

Henwood said she thinks about that analogy about once a week or so.

"I can hear him say: 'Don't wallow. Don't give up the ticket. Keep living.' And that has helped me," she said at Connecticut's statewide 9/11 memorial ceremony Thursday at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.

Henwood, who is originally from Wilton, was part of a large group of family members who gathered for the annual event. Every year, the state holds the ceremony the evening before Sept. 11, to allow family members of victims to attend the ceremonies in Manhattan.

It is still difficult to deal with the loss, Henwood said. "It's so easy to escape into the abyss."

However, she said she was grateful for the life he led and that he is remembered by his family. John's wife returned to her native Spain, where she is raising their two teenage children.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy spoke of the state's sons and daughters who were lost on 9/11 and in the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"This the 14th year since those horrific events played out in two states and the nation's capital," Malloy said. "We lost 161 people who called Connecticut home and since then we have lost 65 Connecticut citizens who participated in the effort to combat terrorism in the world."

He told the people in attendance that the state and country "love and support" them.

"Your state and fellow citizens love and support you and remember the sacrifices that you have made," Malloy said on the overcast evening.

Paul Kirwan, who lost his son Glenn Davis Kirwin on 9/11, threw his energy into his role as chairman of the Fund for 9/11 Living Memorial.

The attack was the worst tragedy in the country's history, said Kirwin. On that day, his grandson comforted him.

"I went to my son's house that day and my then-10-year-old grandson wrapped his arms around me and said, 'It's OK to cry,'" Kirwin said. "This tough old marine has cried many times."

Kirwin lived in Weston in 2001 but moved to New Rochelle, N.Y., to be closer to his grandchildren. He is stepping down soon from his role with the fund.

Emma Hunt, 15, attended the ceremony to honor her father William Hunt of Norwalk, who died in the attacks.

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