Remembering 9/11: Ceremonies honor Rhode Islanders killed in attacks


SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) – Several ceremonies were held throughout the state Monday to observe the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

For the fourth year, the state’s official 9/11 ceremony was held at Rhode Island State Police Headquarters. The event used to be held at the Rhode Island State House, but it was moved because so many people wanted to attend.

Eleven people from Southern New England were killed in the attacks 16 years ago, including seven Rhode Islanders.

The victim’s families, along with Rhode Island’s entire Congressional delegation and Governor Gina Raimondo were in attendance.

Gov. Raimondo spoke at the ceremony and told the crowd to continue to unite and keep the American spirit alive.

“It’s also a reminder that America is strongest when we come together. In the days following 9/11, we came together as a nation and we’re strongest when we are united,” she said.

Oakland Beach Ceremony

In Warwick, a moment of silence followed by the recitation of the 9/11 Tribute poem marked the somber anniversary during a ceremony at Oakland Beach.

Among those in attendance was Judy Cobden, who worked at the American Stock Exchange and was there when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, causing them to collapse.

“I watched so many people die. I could have died. I really thought I was going to. We lost people from my company,” Cobden said. “Love thy neighbor. Be kind to our neighbor. Help a person. Don’t walk by them.”

Three of the Rhode Islanders killed are memorialized at the site of the Oakland Beach Memorial.

Naval War College Ceremony

Down in Newport, the U.S. Naval War College held a special ceremony at the school’s Patriots Memorial for the anniversary.

The school said the event served as an opportunity to pay tribute to those who lose their lives, including the three War College students and seven alumni killed in the attacks. All 10 were assigned to the Pentagon when a plane crashed into the building.

The three Washington, D.C.-based students who were actively enrolled at the time of the attack were: Angela Houtz, of LaPlata, Md.; Lt. Jonas Panik, U.S. Navy, of Mingoville, Pa.; and Cmdr. Dan Shanower, U.S. Navy, of Naperville, Ill.

The seven alumni were: Capt. Gerald F. DeConto, U.S. Navy, of Sandwich, Mass.; Lt. Cmdr. Robert R. Elseth, U.S. Navy, of Vestal, N.Y.; Capt. Lawrence D. Getzfred, U.S. Navy, of Elgin, Neb.; Cmdr. Patrick J. Murphy, U.S. Navy, of Flossmoor, Ill.; retired Capt. Jack Punches, U.S. Navy, of Clifton, Va.; Cmdr. Robert A. Schlegel, U.S. Navy, of Gray, Maine; and Lt. Col. Kip Taylor, U.S. Army, of McLean, Va.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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