PADOVA, Italy — Italians and Americans joined together to mark the 22nd anniversary of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at Padova’s monument called “Memory and Light.”
Italian first responders and firefighters from U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Directorate of Emergency Services also took part in remembering their fallen comrades. They stood in formation as dignitaries, such as the Mayor of Padova, Sergio Giordani, spoke to the gathered crowds.
“Honoring and remembering them is not only our duty but also an important element to give meaning to the actions and choices that each of us is called to make to build a better society and world, where violence and terror have no place,” Giordani said.
Hundreds of people turned out for the event. Among them was the Consul General Robert Needham from the U.S. Consulate General of Milan, U.S. Army Garrison Italy Commander, Col. Scott Horrigan and Lt. Col. Leah Sanchez, the garrison’s director of emergency services.
The ceremony demonstrates the partnership between Italy and the U.S. and more, Horrigan said.
“Italy is more than just a home. Italy becomes more about family. Families come together and remember tough times, so they can look forward to better times,” Horrigan said. “That’s just the beauty of the ceremony.”
At Camp Darby in Pisa, the U.S. Army Garrison Italy fire department and military hosted a 9/11 ceremony on post. Soldiers also took part in a commemorative event at Pietrasanta, where local officials have an artistic memorial based on the Twin Towers.
Islamic terrorists coordinated the 9/11 attacks, which included flying planes into the twin towers and the Pentagon. Passengers on another flight, United 93, fought back against the hijackers, who crashed that airliner into a Pennsylvania field. Nearly 3000 people died in the attacks.
Earlier in the day, at Caserma Del Din in Vicenza, hundreds of Soldiers, civilians and family members participated in a 9/11 memorial run. Many Soldiers he met there were either very young on 9/11 or not even born, Horrigan said. According to a 2018 demographics report, the average age of enlisted Soldiers is 27, meaning that the average Soldier serving now was only 5 years old during the terrorist attacks.
“My two boys who are both in high school joined me. I had to remind them, along with some Soldiers that throughout our history as Americans, we’ve had some significant turning points, and 9/11 is one of those that changed our history, that generations from now will feel the effects of,” Horrigan said. “It’s really important that we come together on days like this.”
Since 2005, people have converged in Padova’s center, to appreciate the meaning of a 56-foot-tall structure designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. The memorial incorporates a 20-foot portion of a metal beam from the World Trade Center in New York City. It resembles an open book, which lets light in as a symbol of universal values such as peace, freedom, coexistence and the union of cultures.
Libeskind also designed the World Trade Center reconstruction on the grounds where the Twin Towers stood. The U.S. State Department donated the beam to Italy, as many of the 9/11 victims were descendants of the then Italian migrants, Libeskind said.
“There is this close bond between Italy and America,” Libeskind said, in earlier interviews. “The American government wanted to recognize this by giving the beam as an everlasting memory and to bear witness not only in Padua, but throughout the free world, so that something like this would never happen again.”