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U.S. consul general thanks Ontario on Sept. 11

09/11/2011 04:53 EDT | Updated 11/11/2011 05:12 EST

The U.S. consul general in Toronto thanked Ontario on Sunday for its support since the Sept. 11 attacks on his country.

"To our friends and family in Ontario and all of Canada, you were with us in our darkest hour as you always are," said Kevin Johnson, reading from a plaque he unveiled at a ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks. "We are grateful to stand with the best neighbours any nation ever had."

Johnson said the day was one to mourn "incredible losses" but also one to commemorate the heroism of those who responded to the attacks.

The event at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square included a march-past by Toronto police, fire and EMS honour guard units. It also featured speeches from the heads of Toronto's emergency services.

'Bigger than Ontario'

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath stepped back from the election campaign trail to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy, not as a politician, but as just another person.

"I'm here as a fellow human being," Horwath said as she attended the memorial dressed in black. "Yes we are in the middle of a very rigorous election campaign but there are some times when you have to step back and say the world is a bigger place than just Ontario politics."

Sunday marked a decade since terrorists crashed fuel-engorged jetliners into New York City's World Trade Centre buildings, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people, including 24 Canadians.

Horwath thanked all the first responders who stepped in to help amid the chaos after the attacks. A number of Canadians were among those who rushed to New York to lend a hand.

Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty also attended 9/11 memorial events on Sunday.

McGuinty met with members of the Oakville fire department at a pancake breakfast in the morning before heading to another memorial event in London.

The London ceremony honoured the 343 firefighters who were killed when the twin towers collapsed, as well as the 21 London firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1855.

Lasting images

"It's hard to believe it's been 10 years," McGuinty said to the hundreds gathered for the memorial. "We all remember where we were and what we were doing that day. We all remember how the day unfolded, hour by hour and image by image. The sight of those buildings collapsing and the thought of those people trapped inside is something that will live with us forever."

McGuinty, who also helped unveil a new monument to the fallen London firefighters, said first responders and others made so many sacrifices that day.

Hudak, joined by his wife Deb Hutton and three-year-old daughter Miller, started his day by placing a wreath at the U.S. consulate in Toronto.

"Very sadly, of course, 24 Canadians were killed in 9/11," Hudak said at a later event in Hamilton. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those families. And being here in particularly in the Hamilton-Niagara area where we have a very special relationship with our friends across the border, our thoughts and prayers are with the American families on this tragic day."

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