September 11 victims honored in special ceremony at War Memorial

MILWAUKEE -- Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee-area officials honored the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks with a special ceremony Tuesday.

Six wreaths were placed in the reflecting pool at the War Memorial Center's Fitch Plaza in downtown Milwaukee, representing those who were killed, including the first responders, during that tragic day.

"Without remembrances like this, that often seems like a distant memory, something that happened in passing.  But we all know it wasn't just something that happened in passing.  It was thousands of innocent lives lost," said Gov. Walker. 

"The best way to honor the dead is by serving the living," he added.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn were also among the leaders who made remarks.

"It was an attack, like all terrorist attacks, on an idea.  That we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," said Abele.

"It was a tragedy that resulted in the death of 2,977 individuals, including 343 brave firefighters," said Barrett.

The head priest from the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek was also there to offer a prayer.

"To take away the ignorance and the arrogance and the hatred that infect our minds and give us love and compassion," said Gurmal Singh.

Dozens of people attended the annual service and rang the bell of the USS Milwaukee in memory of the victims.

For Inga Barry, now a Milwaukee resident, the event was an emotional one.

"It hits me now and then at random times," said Barry.

She worked on the 64th floor of the World Trade Center on 9/11, but wasn't there when the first plane hit the towers.

"I had just gotten out of the subway and it was as close as here to the lake," she said.

Barry lost her boss and close friends that day.  She said the memories are still painful, but ceremonies like these help her cope each passing year.

Even 11 years later, while most have returned to their daily routines, she and others continue to reflect on a day that no one should ever forget.

"It was a time in our nation that we came together and I believe we can do that and we must do it again," said Barrett.

After the ceremony, people also gathered around a steel beam from the World Trade Center.  It was delivered to Milwaukee County last year during the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and now remains a permanent fixture at the War Memorial.

Also in Milwaukee, students at UW-Milwaukee placed nearly 3,000  American flags on the lawn of Spaight's Plaza. Each flag naming a victim killed that day.

There will also be other ceremonies throughout the Milwaukee fire department stations to honor our military and first responders.