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State Honors 9/11 Victims in Ceremony

Gov. M. Jodi Rell and hundreds of residents from Fairfield County gathered Tuesday night at the Connecticut 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport to remember the residents who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Among the 158 victims remembered was former Weston resident Bradley Vadas.

"Brad was wonderful," his mother, Connie Taylor of Weston, said with a smile. "He was a really hard worker ever since he was young. He decided early on that he was going to make something of himself."

Vadas, who grew up in Weston and later settled in Westport, worked in the South Tower as senior vice president of Keefe, Bruyette and Woods. He was 37.

As a kid, Vadas played many sports, including football, softball and baseball. His passion for sports, especially softball, continued into his adulthood.

"The weekend before 9/11, he and some friends got together and played a game of softball at the Compo Beach field where he ended up hitting a homerun out into the Sound, with the bases loaded," Taylor said.

Like Vadas, Darien resident Christopher Gardner, 36, died in the South Tower, where he worked at Aon Corp. For his wife Susan and 12-year-old son Christopher, the memorial service was bittersweet.

"He was a great dad," Christopher said.

And although visiting the memorial site isn't easy, Susan said it's "a beautiful place."

"We don't go into Manhattan anymore because it's too tough, but coming here is nice: it's peaceful," she said. "It makes us feel good."

At the memorial service, a teary-eyed Rell commended the victims' family members for their never-ending strength.

"[The victims] will always be with us because you are the living reminders," Rell said. "Thank you for keeping their memories alive and thank you for continuing to inspire us. You make us proud, and I'm proud to be your governor."

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