BOSTON (AP) - A man who raced into a burning apartment building to alert residents to the fire was honored Tuesday as part of observances in Massachusetts to mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Images: Mass. remembers 9/11
Paul Antonino, of Wakefield, was presented with the annual Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery. The award was created to honor Sweeney, who was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first of two jetliners that were hijacked from Logan International Airport and flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Other events in Boston included a ceremony on the steps of the Statehouse that included the reading of the names of more than 200 people with direct ties to Massachusetts who died in the attacks. Gov. Deval Patrick and family members of those who died were among those who took turns reading the names.
Some relatives sprinkled in personal touches, recalling a "wonderful mother," ''beloved husband," ''beautiful son," or "deeply missed sister."
The American flag on the Statehouse lawn was lowered to half-staff. Earlier, a wreath was laid at the state's 9/11 Memorial on the Boston Public Garden and a moment of silence was observed at the airport.
Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who presented the bravery award in the House of Representatives chamber, lauded Antonino - who was running errands on April 1 - for courageously acting when he noticed flames coming from the building in the East Boston neighborhood.
Images: Mass. remembers 9/11
Antonino, who grew up in Boston's North End, acted "instinctively," Murray said, entering the three-story building and yelling to residents to get out - even kicking in the doors of elderly residents who were unaware of the fire.
"There was no hesitation, there was no calculation," Murray said.
The 7-alarm blaze injured two firefighters and left 30 residents homeless, but all escaped with their lives thanks to Antonino's actions, Murray added.
Sweeney, who lived in Acton with her husband, Michael, and two young children, was a flight attendant for American Airlines for 14 years. After Flight 11 was commandeered, Sweeney was able to discreetly contact ground crews to alert them of the hijacking and provide the first critical information to authorities about the actions of the terrorists.
Sweeney "stood up to what was unthinkable horror," said Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
Sweeney's daughter, Anna, now a teenager, told an audience at the award ceremony that included relatives of those on Flight 11 that she never tired of hearing about her mother's bravery that day. Though too young at the time to fully comprehend the tragedy, she remembered her father breaking the news.
"Mommy's plane was taken by bad guys and a lot of people went to heaven," Anna Sweeney recalled her father saying.
As was the case in other Sept. 11 observances around the country, the anniversary and events marking it in Boston were slightly smaller and more subdued than the 10th anniversary commemoration a year ago.
The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund planned to gather on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to assemble care packages that will be sent to Bay State residents serving overseas in the armed forces.
An annual blood drive was scheduled at Fenway Park, and a procession and ceremony was scheduled for Tuesday evening at the Massachusetts Fallen Firefighters Memorial outside the Statehouse.
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