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Logan ceremony honors 9/11 fallen

Friends, relatives say the loss of victims still resonates, 10 years later

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By Brian Ballou
Globe Staff / September 10, 2011

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Captain Berk Bennett had the day off on Sept. 11, 2001. But his good friend John Ogonowski, a man he had flown with numerous times, was scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11.

“It’s still very emotional, still very raw and it still feels like it was yesterday, and there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think about them,’’ Bennett, a 22-year veteran pilot for American, said during a ceremony yesterday at Logan International Airport honoring the victims and families of the terrorist attacks.

About 500 people attended the event under windy but warm weather. Ten US flags, affixed to the back of a stage erected on a parking lot across from the Hilton Hotel, snapped as the event got underway.

After the 45-minute ceremony, friends and relatives of the victims walked through a glass memorial on a nearby grassy hill, pausing to find the names of their beloved.

Bennett was also a close friend of five crew members who perished.

“Boston is a crew base for us here at American, and it’s a fairly small crew base, so we got to know everybody, so it’s like family,’’ he said. “So in a way, we lost family members also on that day.’’

Ceremonies marking the 10-year anniversary of the attacks are being held throughout the country. But at places like Logan, the former site of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and a field in Shanksville, Pa., the gatherings are especially poignant and personal.

In addition to Flight 11, United Flight 175 departed from Logan and was flown into the World Trade Center.

“We’ve had a chance to integrate it into our lives. . . . The sadness never goes away, but the shock has eased a little,’’ Peggy Ogonowski, John Ogonowski’s widow, said after walking through the memorial. “And now is the time to reflect and remember what can happen to our country and be vigilant.’’

Even as those who lost their lives were fondly recalled, Logan stepped up security precautions, after what authorities have deemed a “credible threat’’ about possible plans for a terrorist strike in New York or Washington to coincide with the anniversary of the attacks.

Victoria Kennedy, widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who in the days after Sept. 11 met with every Massachusetts family who lost a loved one in the attacks, acknowledged that it was impossible to stop every evil act in the world.

“But we can reject the hate and the fear that perverts the human heart and infects the soul,’’ Kennedy told those gathered.

In Boston, several events are planned this weekend to honor the victims, including a reading of the names of those who perished tomorrow near the State House at 8:30 a.m. .

Music and poetry will be part of a remembrance ceremony tomorrow from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. The Boston Pops Brass Ensemble will pay tribute to the victims of the attacks as well as service members stationed in the Middle East.

The event will kick off with the arrival of an estimated 200 bicycle riders, about a quarter of whom left yesterday from ground zero in Manhattan. The ride is organized by Beyond the 11th, a nonprofit group created by Susan Retik, the widow of a Sept. 11 victim.

Brian Ballou can be reached at