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The Memory of 9/11 Inspires Fairfielders

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – James Rimassa says he’s just continuing “the family business.” After all, both his father and grandfather were firefighters. But while he was attending Fairfield University, he witnessed something that strengthened his resolve to join the Fire Department of New York–the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“It really is the best thing I ever did,” says Rimassa, who became a New York City firefighter after he graduated in 2005.

Rimassa was one of the many emergency responders and Fairfielders who saw the town dedicate its new Sept. 11 memorial , containing a piece of the World Trade Center. And while all remembered the tragedy of that day, there were also signs of the inspiration to do good that came out of those events.

“We know that Sept. 11 marks a change in this country. We know it marks a change in our lives,” said Judge Dan Caruso. “But we also know that we have the opportunity to make all the difference.”

Many, like Rimassa, joined Fire or Police departments or the military. But some, like Jennifer Hochberg, said Sept. 11 inspired them to get involved in other ways. In an email response to one of our 9/11-themed questions, Hochberg said that day convinced her to do good in her community.

Hochberg began working with anti-domestic violence advocacy groups. Then she turned to local politics, joining the Human Services Commission and, earlier this year, the Representative Town Meeting .

“Though we live in uncertain times, I continue to remain optimistic that things will turn around for the better, and I will continue to be involved with the town that I grew up in,” Hochberg wrote. “And to let others know that we each have a part to play, and that if you want make a difference, no matter how big or small, get involved.”

When asked what he thought Fairfielders should take from the memory of Sept. 11, Rimassa turned to optimism as well. “Just remember, and think to the future. Try to make some positive out of this,” he said. “We have to continue to rebuild, and strengthen ourselves.”

Did Sept. 11 inspire you to do good in your community? Share your stories in the comments below.

CORRECTION: This article originally stated that Hochberg served on the Town Facilities Commission. It was the Human Services Commission.

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