DANBURY, Conn. -- The crowd of about 100 people who came to Elmwood Park on Main Street in Danbury on Friday evening for a Sept. 11 Remembrance Gathering included three special guests — the wife and two daughters of a local man who was killed that day.
This is the 15th anniversary of the tragedy in which nearly 3,000 people were killed the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, in coordinated attacks by al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The gathering took place near the city's Sept. 11 memorial sculpture, which is engraved with the names of all the Connecticut victims, including Rob Higley.
Higley, whose wife Vycki Higley Pratt and daughters Amanda Higley, 19, and Robyn Higley, 14 -- who was born two months after the tragedy -- attended the ceremony. Robyn recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and Amanda sang "God Bless America."
Robyn Higley, who now attends Brookfield High School, said, like every year around Sept. 11, "I'm an emotional train wreck.
"What helps me get through it is all the people who support me," she said.
Amanda said she has wonderful memories of her late father that she treasures. She can't help but think of her dad whenever she looks in the mirror.
"I look exactly like him. I have his face ... his eyes," she said.
"And they tell me I have his sense of humor," said Amanda, recalling the times when her father used to sneak her out of preschool by saying there was a family anniversary.
"My mom didn't know he did this until she found out one day ... and wasn't too happy," Amanda chuckled.
Amanda is now a freshman at the Institute for American Musical Theater in Manhattan, where she is studying to have a career on Broadway. She would like to be the next Eliza in the Broadway musical "Hamilton," she said.
"My dad was a goofball and I was glad to have known him. There was no one who could have made me smile more than he could," Amanda said.
"I am working on not letting him down."
Others in attendance were Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, City Council President Joseph Cavo, State Rep. and Town Clerk Janice Giegler, Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour and Fire Chief TJ Wiedl.
Boughton read the list of the Danbury residents who perished in the attacks, including Higley.
"Each year, we come here to celebrate, honor, remember and thank our uniformed (officers) and celebrate the lives they lived and the contributions they made," Boughton said.
"The one thing that always strikes me about police officers and firefighters who were working that day is while everyone was running out of the building, they were running in," he said.
"That's because that's their job. It's their job to make us safe, to protect us. The amount of self sacrifice that this requires is remarkable and goes way beyond a paycheck and a job."
Many more 9/11 ceremonies will be held this weekend in Fairfield County. Click here for a list of events on the Daily Voice.