Michael Faughnan has read names aloud in New York on Sept. 11 in the past to honor those lost, but his brother’s connection to Colorado is what makes Broomfield’s ceremony so special.
Faughnan, who lives in Denver, lost his brother Chris, a Colorado native who was working at the top of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, when the attacks occurred,
“I feel like this is where he is,” Michael Faughnan said. “I think it’s the connection to Colorado.”
Chris Faughnan was a broker for the financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald L.P. The company, whose headquarters occupied the 101st through the 105th floors of the World Trade Center’s North Tower, lost every employee in its New York offices on Sept. 11, 2001 — 658 people, including Chris Faughnan.
On the 10th anniversary of the attack the family was invited to attend the national memorial ceremonies with former President Barack Obama in New York, but chose instead to spend the day in Broomfield.
Since the city began holding the ceremony, Chris Faughnan’s wife Cathy, their children and Michael Faughnan have been involved.
More than 200 people attended this year’s ceremony Wednesday at the Broomfield Amphitheaterto honor military personnel, police officers and firefighters.
“Seniors graduating from high school this year will only know the events of that day from what they’ve read in their history books or seen on TV,” Broomfield Police Chief Gary Creager. said. “To put things into perspective even more, iPhones weren’t around in 2001, social media was unheard of, and Google was only a few years old.”
A lot can change in 18 years, he said, but what has not is a commitment to honoring and remembering the lives lost that day and the first responders who rushed into danger to save lives.
People who did so are still dying from “ground zero” related illnesses that have been linked to the rescue and recovery efforts.
“Today let’s not just reflect on the grief our country experienced in the days following the attacks, but also the strength, unity and pride that swept our country,” Creager said.
He encouraged people to think about the thousands of heroes who stood up, and continue to stand, for freedom.
“To our local first responders thank you for being here today in honor of those who can’t, and for continuing to answer the call to serve,” he said.
A combined honor guard, made up of police officers and North Metro Fire Rescue District personnel, led a procession from the Amphitheater to the 9/11 Memorial, where a flag was lowered and presented to Chris Faughnan’s younger brother, Thomas Faughnan Jr., who recently moved to Colorado.
Before he did so, North Metro Chief Dave Ramos explained why he was ringing a ceremonial bell three times for each of the sites attacked — New York, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. Bagpiper Ian Jackson also performed as part of the ceremony.
Adjoining the memorial grounds on Spader Way, two fire engines’ ladders were raised together and an American flag was suspended between them in remembrance.
Nearly 3,000 people died during the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, and hundreds more have died since due to health complications from exposure to toxins at the scene. Of those lives lost on Sept. 11, more than 400 were firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency services providers.
Michael Faughnan mentioned the “senseless devastation” that occurred over the past year in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Pittsburgh. Although the nation does not designate a day of remembrance, the losses are no less painful for the families and loves ones involved.
“I note these tragedies not to push a political agenda, but to merely raise awareness of the parallels to 9/11 — family devastation, heartbreak, senselessness.”
While he does not think the world will ever rid itself of these evils, he said how they treat one another it is within individuals’ control.
“We all have an opportunity to make a difference more often than we realize,” Faughnan said. “We can all reflect today and determine what the difference may be.”
The Broomfield Farmers Market hosted a First Responders’ Day at the market Tuesday evening in memory of 9/11, where organizers encouraged shoppers to meet area police officers and firefighters, learn about what they do, and thank them for their service to the community. The Broomfield Children’s Chorus sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” as part of the event.