Wethersfield is one of many Connecticut communities that lost its citizens when the twin towers fell.
A new 9/11 exhibit in town, designed by a widow of one of the Wethersfield victims aims to teach people who are unfamiliar with the tragedy, and give new perspective to those who remember it, 20 years later.
Judy Keane and a team of volunteers created the exhibit.
Keane lost her husband Dick on 9/11. He was at the World Trade Center for a one-day work visit.
“It's hard to remember back of what could have been, and what was,” Keane said.
Retired Hartford firefighter John Mudry fought back tears, but you could tell the 9/11 exhibit moved him.
“It just becomes part of you. It's in your heart and your soul, your memory forever. And your blood...it's bothersome sometimes but it’s something you have to do,” Mudry said.
Mudry was one of hundreds of Connecticut first responders who swarmed the World Trade Center ruins to recover the fallen in the hours, days, and weeks after 9/11.
NBC Connecticut talked with him about it on the one year anniversary, in 2002.
“…solid objects, as such, there’s nothing left. Then you start thinking, well, where’s all the people, 2832, I mean, where are they?” Mudry said back then.
NBC Connecticut’s Len Besthoff covered 9/11 and has chronicled Keane’s mission to make 9/11 a positive for Wethersfield from the beginning.
Keane, with the help of friends and family, has been the driving force behind the 9/11 Memorial Sports Center in town, which features a pair of twisted girders from the World Trade Center rubble.
She also created the Keane Foundation, which for well over a decade has provided a variety of after-school programs in Wethersfield, and more.
“That's so much better than remembering the horror of that day. And, you know, I’ll always carry that with me, but I like to think that my legacy in the community has been that we've taken this horrible event and changed it and made it a more of a positive for the community,” Keane said.
Keane’s latest effort, this 9/11 exhibit, has videos, photos, newspaper clippings, and all kinds of artifacts for everyone to see, focusing in part on how 9/11 impacted four Wethersfield families and the souls they lost: Richard Keane, Jeffrey Bittner, David Winton, and Fred Kuo.
Keane explained further, “I feel it's very important because I think everybody needs to remember it. And I think we need to educate children today about this event that changed our world. And it did.”
Keane was there when Mudry visited, and spent some time with him.
She shared with Mudry, and us, that the most meaningful item there is a box of World Trade Center rubble that some firefighters gave to her after 9/11.
It is always on her person or kept under lock and key, a connection to her late husband.
“He became part of the debris…it just warmed my heart when I got it because I felt as though I was a little bit nearer to him,” Keane said.
Mudry added, “I think about just about every day, put it that way…I think it's a necessary thing to heal. And keep the memory going.”
The 9/11 exhibit will remain open at the Wethersfield Museum through the end of September. To learn more about the Keane Foundation or offer a donation, click here.