Columbus Blue Mass honors 9/11 victims and first responders

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Across Columbus Monday, central Ohioans commemorated 9/11 with ceremonies and a special mass that drew dozens of local first responders.

 Bagpipes played at the beginning of “Blue Mass” at St. Timothy Church in Columbus. The service was in honor of first responders and the nearly 3,000 that died on 9/11. Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said the support of the community means so much to law enforcement.

“You can kind of get that feeling that you’re not appreciated sometimes, but we know we are and an event like this just shows the community really does care,” said Sheriff Baldwin.

Chaplain Leo Connolly who helped with the service spent a week at Ground Zero immediately after 9/11. During that time he helped New York Firefighters and Police cope after losing so much, including at times, their faith.

“There’s a difference between forgiving and forgetting. If you don’t forgive you’ve given these people the power they wanted to take from you, so we’re here to show them that we’re going on and that we’re not going to be people of hate,” said Chaplain Connolly.

In a time of such division, he hopes the anniversary draws Americans back together.

“I can remember that unity, that bond that existed after 9/11 and I think it’s a good reminder for us to remember but also not with words, but also with actions,” he said.

In Hilliard, people packed First Responders Park. Pieces of crumpled steel, relics of the World Trade Center, were the centerpiece for their 9/11 memorial ceremony.

“It helps tell the story,” said retired Hilliard Police Chief Doug Francis. “For people to have the ability to actually touch something that was part of this history and part of 9/11.”

Francis said helping pick out the steel pieces for the memorial was life-changing.

 “After 34 years of being a police officer, there was no more poignant moment in my life then that trip I made to New York City,” he said.

 Hilliard said First Responders Park is one of the largest 9/11 memorials in the country, featuring 7 tons of steel from the Twin Towers.

9/11 sixteen years later. Never forget.

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