Area communities plan limited Sept. 11 commemorations this year

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By Brett Peruzzi, Contributing Writer

Westborough’s 9/11 Memorial has a plaque that honors the memories of two local women, Robyn Kaplan and Linda George, who were passengers on American Airlines Flight 11.
File photo/Bonnie Adams

Region – On the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3000 lives, and contributed to countless more after that day, another national crisis will affect how the day is commemorated this year in some local communities.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state guidelines on crowd sizes and social distancing, several communities have decided to limit the scope of their ceremonies.  

“We will not be inviting the public this year,” said Shrewsbury Fire Chief James Vuona. “We will only have a quiet, respectful fire department staff observation at headquarters. We will follow the standard fire service observation protocol we use every year.”

For the last few years, our 9/11 commemorations have been very low key,” said Thomas Moses, executive assistant for Hudson. 

“They have taken place at fire headquarters with staff only. This year they will be even more subdued, without off-duty firefighters attending,” he explained. “The hope is that we can do something more public in 2021, the 20th anniversary.”

The city of Marlborough has decided to significantly change its commemoration.

“In past years a former city councilor, Rob Seymour, put together a flag display at the iconic Walker Building front lawn that sits on a hill,” said Trish Bernard, assistant to Mayor Arthur Vigeant. There, volunteers placed three thousand American flag in tribute to the victims of September 11. “There was a ceremony tied into CrossFit, with athletes doing a workout around the perimeter of the flags and there were a few speakers. Sadly this event will not take place this year but we will light the front of the building up at night with red, white and blue lights.”

Bernard noted that the decision to change the commemoration is both due to the pandemic and recent vandalism that’s occurred in surrounding communities as well as Marlborough.

In Northborough, it’s business as usual this year for the fire department’s own annual acknowledgment of September 11. 

“The fire department usually does a small ceremony at the station, but it will not be affected by the pandemic,” said Fire Chief David Parenti. 

Southborough’s plans were still evolving because of the public health situation.

“We will be coordinating the level of commemoration with the Southborough police department based on current pandemic guidance from the state,” said Fire Chief Steven Achilles.