WESTPORT - Margaret Eckert lost her brother-in-law, Sean Rooney, on Sept. 11, 2001.
She lost her sister, Beverly, eight years later in a plane crash as she flew to Buffalo, New York, to present a memorial scholarship in her husband's honor.
Eckert was among the family members who spoke Thursday at Connecticut's annual ceremony honoring Rooney, of Stamford, and the other 160 people with Connecticut ties who died in the terrorist attacks.
Eckert said that while she feels a double loss from that tragedy, what she remembers most 20 years later, is the kindness of others and a feeling of unity in the country without regard to political affiliation.
“For all the horror of the day, people pulled together to support each other," she said. “My own neighbors in Massachusetts and my adopted neighbors in Stamford reached out with casseroles and kind words. We smiled at strangers.”
It was a theme reflected more than once during the ceremony at the state's memorial site on Sherwood Island State Park.
Gov. Ned Lamont told those gathered that he remembers not only Sept. 11, but also the day after.
“I remember the silence,” he said. “There were no planes, no noise, no nothing. It was so quiet. And I remember the world, very briefly, just being as one. Just the little acts of kindness as we looked out for each other, and felt the pain of those who had lost, reaching out for maybe somebody alone and what we could do.”
After the speeches, as has happened each year since the memorial was dedicated in 2002, family members and friends read the 161 names aloud.
They then walked to the 9-foot granite monument that overlooks Long Island Sound. It was a spot where on a clear day 20 years ago, people gathered and watched the smoke rising from lower Manhattan.