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September 11, 2023

Healey joins families in solemn 9/11 ceremony

Photo | Alison Kuznitz/SHNS Gov. Maura Healey carries an American flag down the State House steps Monday morning during a 9/11 memorial ceremony, marking the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Diane Hunt's voice broke as she read the name of her deceased son during a memorial ceremony on the State House steps early Monday morning marking the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Hunt told the News Service that her son, William Christopher Hunt, was murdered on Sept. 11, 2001. He worked at New York City's World Trade Center on the 84th floor of the South Tower, which collapsed within an hour of being struck by a hijacked airplane. William Hunt's name and more than 200 others were read aloud Monday to remember victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, and the passenger-thwarted attack that ended in Pennsylvania, who were Massachusetts residents or had strong ties to the commonwealth.

"He was 32 -- beautiful, handsome redhead," Diane Hunt said in an interview. "I never want anybody to forget he was a wonderful human being, so I really want him to be a part of everybody's life and never let anybody forget this day. It's too important."

Hunt, of Plymouth, said her son was an amazing father to his 15-month-old daughter Emma.

Gov. Maura Healey, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu also participated in reading names, alongside other family members who shared brief, heartrending tributes of their loved ones.

"As we listen to their names, we honor their memory and our national commitment to never forget," Leslie Blair, a family advisory member of The Massachusetts 9/11 Fund, said. "Behind each name is a unique person that was taken from us far too soon."

Blair said families, friends and the country are "forever changed" by the attacks, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

During her first 9/11 ceremony as governor, Healey solemnly descended the steps of the state Capitol with an American flag, which was raised to half-staff. Healey remained at the flagpole during renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Taps."

Spectators stood outside the State House steps, with others gathered across the street near Boston Common, during the proceedings.

At the event -- which didn't include remarks from Healey, Veterans' Services Secretary Jon Santiago or other state officials -- attendees recited a responsive poem titled "We Remember Them."

Sonia Tita Puopolo read the name of her mother, Sonia Mercedes Morales Puopolo, who was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, the hijacked plane from Boston that struck the North Tower. Sonita Tita Puopolo wore a necklace with her mother's wedding ring, which she said was discovered under 1.6 million tons of rubble at Ground Zero and identified through DNA matching.

"Miracles do happen," Puopolo told the News Service after the ceremony, describing the ring as an "important talisman."

Puopolo, of Boston, said she published a book, called "Sonia's Ring: 11 Ways To Heal Your Heart," as she grappled with the aftermath of the tragedy.

"She was just an amazing human being," Puopolo said of her mother. "We read the names -- every single one of these people who were on the flight, they're more than names. Everyone's lives changed; not only just us at a personal level, but the world changed."

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