Employees from the York County Registry of Probate took their turn ringing the bell at the historic York County Court House in Alfred to mark Sept. 11, 2001.

ALFRED — The sound of a bell ringing peeled out over Alfred village from York County Court House Monday morning; a simple, solemn event marking the loss of life to terrorist attacks on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

In all, 2,977 firefighters, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement and civilians perished, and more than 6,000 people were injured. Also dead were the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists who had hijacked and crashed four commercial aircraft into the World Trade Centers in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and in a farm field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Those who undertook the bell-ringing — York County government employees from registries of deeds and probate, from the York County Emergency Management Agency, York County Sheriff’s Office, and others — did so to remember those who perished.

Diana Plante of the deeds registry was at work on that Tuesday morning in September 2001 when she heard the news.

“It was devastating and life changing,” she said.

Debra Ham, also in deeds, remembers that morning clearly and the stillness that ensued after the attacks.


“It was so quiet, and there were no planes in the air,” said Ham, who, along with others, has rung the bell in previous years.

“It is important to remember,” said Deputy Probate Register Casey Hartford, who recalled how people came together after the attacks.

Three of the bell ringers were veterans — David Francoeur of York County Emergency Management Agency, who served in the U.S. Army National Guard; Dennis Chagnon, a court security officer with the York County Sheriff’s Office who served in the U.S. Air Force National Guard, and Chance Giannelli, retired after 23 years with the U.S. Army Special Forces and nephew of Richard Gaudette, of the county’s facilities department.

“A lot of Americans died that day,” said Gianelli, “and a lot of soldiers after the fact.”

Giannelli had been assigned to the New England Recruiting Battalion and was heading to work on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when his wife Celeste called to let him know what had transpired. “I knew we were going to war,” said Giannelli, who went on to serve in Iraq and on several tours of duty in Afghanistan.

He said Gaudette asked him if he would be a bell ringer, and he replied in the affirmative. “I was honored,” he said.


Francoeur had a similar reaction.

“It was an honor to be here with fellow veterans,” Francoeur said, expressing sorrow for the loss of life on that day 22 years ago.

“It was a proud moment for me” to ring the bell, said Chagnon, remembering the deaths that resulted from the terrorist attacks. “It was an honor to do that for them, to remember them and the sacrifice they made.”

The bell sounded at 8:46 a.m., at 9:03 a.m., at 9:37 a.m. and 10:03 a.m., commemorating the exact moment when three of the terrorist-controlled planes hit their targets, the forth went down in Pennsylvania falling shot of its intended target but killing all aboard.

The county government has marked the events of Sept. 11 for many years and, at times, like the 20-year anniversary in 2021, with large commemorations. Over the past 20 years. Gaudette has organized the bell ringing. He plans to retire soon, and expressed the hope it will continue.

“I think it should be recognized,” said Gaudette. “It is part of history.”

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