Remember to Remember event commemorates 9/11 victims

  • The Women's Memorial Bell Tower at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge is believed to have been the first monument in the United States dedicated to the sacrifice and service of women. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/9/2021 2:37:34 PM

This Saturday, to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the names of the victims will be read in what has become the annual “Remember to Remember” event at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge.

James Pelletier, of Winchendon, Massachusetts, was the original organizer of the project. He had close ties to the World Trade Center, and knew the neighborhood well. When the attack was launched, he was in college, studying for a degree in psychology, with specialty training in trauma.

Knowing he could help in the aftermath, he joined with other volunteers to organize projects in downtown lower Manhattan, known as the “Return to Normalcy” effort.

Pelletier said one of the ways he wanted to help, was by memorializing the victims.

In 2002, he set out on a project to record the names of those killed at Ground Zero, including the passengers on the flights that crashed into the World Trade Center towers. Pelletier, who has a learning disability that makes reading difficult, reached out to an organization he was a member of that provides recordings for blind and dyslexic people, and asked to use their studios to make the recordings.

“They said, ‘Yes, let’s do it,’” Pelletier said.

Television personalities Jerry Orbach and Betsy Palmer were signed on to read the names of the Victims of the flights and Orbach read the names of police officers who were killed. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Alan Hicks of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and other volunteers at the New York Unit of the Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic read the remaining names.

On the first anniversary of 9/11, the recordings of the names of the World Trade Center victims were read at Battery Park in New York City. Later, Pelletier said, he would expand the project, recording the names of the victims of the Pentagon attack as well as the victims of Flight 93, the plane that was downed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers rushed the cockpit to prevent the plane from reaching its intended destination of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Pelletier has held the reading at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge since 2008.

The Cathedral of the Pines itself is a memorial to Sandy Sloane, a pilot who was killed in World War II, before he was able to build his home on the ridge at the Cathedral.

“It is the incarnation of a place of sorrow and suffering that is transformed to a place of peace and beauty. Because it’s a place of transformation from pain to beauty, it became the perfect place for this event,” Pelletier said.

Pelletier said listening to the names and ruminating on the events of Sept. 11 have brought forth different emotions in him each year. Last year, he said, he spent a lot of time thinking about the ripple effects of the 2,977 lives lost that day. This year, what’s on his mind is the 1,300 victims whose remains were never recovered.

The event begins at the Cathedral of the Pines on Sept. 11 at 8:45 a.m., with a ringing of the bell tower for one minute. The reading of names begins at 8:46 a.m., the moment the first plane hit the first tower. The event ends at approximately 11:30 a.m. Residents are encouraged to come, and stay either for the entire event or a portion. A simulcast of the recording will play both outdoors at the Altar of Nations and inside the field house.


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