A group of Lynnfield clergy, public safety officials and residents spent the past couple of months planning a day of remembrance for the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
As many know, the town lost one of its own that day - Ace Bailey, the well-liked former Bruins player who was working as director of the Los Angeles Kings' scouting program when he was killed that morning.
On Sunday, Bailey's widow Kathy returned to Lynnfield to speak during the memorial service on the town common. Bailey's niece, Sarah Pothier, also came to town to sing a couple of songs during the service, .
"Ten long years have passed and I still feel like it happened yesterday," Mrs. Bailey told the gathering of hundreds. She noted that she married Ace Bailey in 1972, and that the two had lived on Ivanhoe Drive during their time in Lynnfield.
Recalling the actual events of 9/11, Mrs. Bailey said the day had started as many others, with Ace expecting to be gone for a couple of weeks handling his hockey duties. That particular Tuesday morning didn't feel much different than any others she said, except that it was a "dazzling, beautiful late summer morning."
"As the surreal news of the day began to unwind, I found it was too surreal and terrible to fathom," said Mrs. Bailey, adding that it had been "unpeakably horrific to imagine what Ace and the rest of the passengers had experienced."
Despite the devastating events of September 11th, 2001, Mrs. Bailey said she quickly learned that "we were not alone, we were blessed with family and friends."
"The reality and finality that Ace was gone forever had settled in," said Mrs. Bailey. "I couldn't see that I would ever be happy again, I was faced with a dreadful fear of the unknown."
However, five months later the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation began to shape, and in February 2002, the new nonprofit held its first fundraiser to build a children's play center for young patients at the Floating Hospital at Tufts Medical Center. By all accounts, Ace Bailey loved kids as much as he loved hockey.
Building this nonprofit group devoted to helping very sick children also helped provide Mrs. Bailey with new perspectives on the tragedy, she noted. "Seeing their suffering helped me look at my despair in a new way," she said.
Along with her work with the foundation, Mrs. Bailey also noted that she is now the proud grandmother of 2 1/2 year old Evan Garnet Bailey.
"I was given the gift of divine grace to find the courage that was in me all along," Mrs. Bailey said later. "I found the sadness and loss would always be there, but that I could make the choice to manage it."
Mrs. Bailey's appearance helped wind down a full day of 9/11 memorial activities in town. That morning, police and fire personnel held their own service in tribute to the victims of that day, particularly the first responders.
In the hours before the evening service, volunteers on Lynnfield Common read the name of each 9/11 victim in less than three hours, finishing somewhat earlier than expected.
For Those Who Would Like To Donate:
In the weeks leading up the event, the Lynnfield 911 Committee gathered donations to defray the cost of Sunday's services. However, the committee also plans to donate its remaining funds to the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation and the Uniformed Firefighter's Association Widow's and Children's Fund.
- Donations to the Lynnfield 911 Committee can be sent c/o Janice Casoli, The Savings Bank, 351 Main Street, Wakefield, MA 01880.
- Donations to the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation can be sent to 135 Langdon Street, Providence, RI 02904.
- UFA Widow's and Children's Fund: Uniformed Firefighter's Association, 204 East 23rd Street, New York, New York, 10010.
Editor's Note: All of the separate stories and images from the Lynnfield 911 observance can be seen on this landing page.