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Island remembers victims of 9/11

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Michael Dunkley lays a wreath at the September 11 Memorial at the Botanical Gardens yesterday, accompanied by Corporal Kenton Trott. A moment’s silence for the victims of the terror attacks was also observed (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Saltus Grammar School students laid wreaths yesterday in memory of alumni Boyd Gatton and Robert Higley, who died in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Michael Dunkley also laid a wreath for the victims of the disaster at the September 11 Memorial at the Botanical Gardens, and observed a moment of silence for those lost.

Mr Gatton and Mr Higley, 38 and 29 respectively, were two of three Bermudians killed in the attack on the World Trade Centre. The third was Rhondelle Tankard, 31.

During yesterday’s short ceremony at Saltus, Ted Staunton, the head of the school, called it “an indelible event that remains in one’s consciousness and will for the rest of our lives”.

“9/11 will be the defining event of this generation,” he said. “Society was shaken to its very core by this event.”

Jon Beard, the deputy head, said he “had the pleasure of teaching Robert Higley”, who was employed by Aon Risk Management Services, having joined the firm three months before.

He was on the 92nd floor of the South Tower and left behind his daughter Amanda and pregnant wife, Vycki. His second daughter, Robyn, was born two months later.

Mr Gatton was working on the 97th floor of the World Trade Centre when the planes hit.

According to an article published by the New York Times in December 2001, he spent his free time practising tai chi in the park near his home in Jersey City, doing carpentry work, reading, and indulging his nieces when they visited from Bermuda with his two sisters.

Nick Dill, the Bishop of Bermuda and a Saltus alumnus, led the group in prayer then asked for a moment of silence to remember both men and their families.

“We ask for your help and your guidance to address the sources of anger and hate that lead to acts of violence in our own hearts and community,” he added.

Wreaths were laid at 9.46am, the time the first plane struck. In military tradition, S9 student Billy Ewles played The Last Post, a cavalry trumpet call sounded at commemorative services.

Meanwhile, Mr Dunkley invited Bermuda to join the world in remembering those killed during the disaster.

“I’m sure everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on that fateful day 14 years ago,” he said. “That unspeakable act of terrorism stole the lives of nearly 3,000 souls and changed our world forever.

“As we go about our day, I’m encouraging all of Bermuda to please keep the family and friends of Rhondelle, Boyd and Robert in their thoughts, as well as the incredible acts of bravery and courage demonstrated by the rescue workers and first responders on September 11, 2001.”

Students from Saltus Grammar School held a wreath-laying ceremony at 9.46am on Friday in memory of alumni Boyd Gatton and Robert Higley, who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 (Photograph by Nadia Hall)
The wreath laid by Michael Dunkley at the September 11 Memorial at the Botanical Gardens (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Bishop Nick Dill addresses students and staff at Saltus Grammar School during Friday's ceremony