FAIRFIELD — Monday’s anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks dawned much the same way the day did 16 years ago, with bright blue sunny skies.

“Our way of life, our sense of security, changed so drastically,” that day, Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said, as the town marked the day with its annual remembrance ceremony, in front of the 9-11 memorial in front of fire headquarters on Reef Road.

But what has also changed, McCarthy said, “is this group of people. We do more together as a community.” While first responders are more prepared than ever, he said, “It’s not a lesson that comes easy to us. Our mission has become more complex, and more challenging, but we are up to the challenge.”

Probate Court Judge Daniel Caruso made note of the moment of silence that started the simple ceremony, and how it reflected on that day 16 years ago. On that day, he said, “it was an eerie silence heard over the sights and sounds,” as residents watched from the town’s beaches, and saw the smoke rising from the World Trade Center.

“It’s heard in the gasps as we watched in horror as the planes crashed into the towers,” Caruso said. “I hope remembering the silence of that day will remind us to listen a little more, so we will actually hear our neighbors.”

For Police Chief Gary MacNamara, it was hard to find the words to mark the day, that hasn't already been said.

“So, I look at today as a bad day, but a good day,” MacNamara said, and it’s that dichotomy of emotions, he said, that makes it difficult. There is the horror, MacNamara said, of people having to choose between burning to death in the towers or jumping to their death.

But there is good in what happened afterward, he said, bringing people and communities together. Our hearts, MacNamara said, bear the pain, but our minds reflect the good.

“We all remember where we were on Sept. 11, “ FIrst Selectman Mike Tetreau said, and today, watching the work being done by first responders in Texas and Florida, “we’re getting a real reminder of what our first responders are doing for us, and our communities, every day.”

While Sept. 11 saw the evilest attack in history, state Sen. Tony Hwang said, “it also saw the best of humanity come out.” Sept. 11, he said, is not just one day, “it’s every single day/”

greilly@ctpost.com; @GreillyPost