A sea of uniforms lined up outside The Basilica of The Immaculate Conception church in downtown Waterbury on Tuesday — police officers and police cadets joining forces to attend a special Mass to commemorate the 17th anniversary of an attack of America.
Inside the church at the service, Father Christopher Ford had a special message he wanted them to take to heart.
“For all those who risk their lives every day to protect and to keep us safe, we pray for their protection and well being,” he told the crowd.
“Our parish, our community is grateful for what they do and the sacrifices that they make and the risks they take every day when they go to work,” Father Ford said in an interview with News 8.
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The Mass was designed to honor, to remember and to pay respects to the 3,000 people killed that day. It was also designed to thank first responders for the jobs they do.
First responders in Waterbury responded to the assault on the World Trade Center 17 years ago — they were part of the bucket brigade of police officers from around the country who helped to try to retrieve evidence and bodies in the rubble and ruins of the Twin Towers.
Waterbury’s current interim police chief was a member of the bucket brigade.
“I think police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel, it’s embedded in us to assist when the time comes and that was certainly a time in our history when the call was needed,” stated Interim Chief Fernando Spagnolo.
Another church in Waterbury showed its appreciation to first responders as well. At the House of Prayer Church, first responders were treated to free meals all day long, dished out by members of the congregation.
“For someone to recognize our hard work and let us take a break and break bread together in fellowship with the community has been awesome,” said Waterbury officer Andrea Saunders.
At the entrance to the church, the congregation set up a tribute listing the names of all 3,000 people killed that day. The tribute also included pictures of the first responders who gave their lives on 9/11/2001.
“The landscape has been repaired. The urban landscape has been filled with beautiful buildings. But so many hearts remain with a terrible hole in them. We gather for them,” Father Ford said.