PATERSON, NJ - Nearly 3000 lives were lost when the iconic Twin Towers came crashing to the ground as a result of the terrorist attack the gripped our nation on September 11, 2001. One of those victims, Kenneth Patrick Lira, was extra special, according to Mayor Andre Sayegh because “he was one of us.”
Kenneth, who had boarded a passenger train from the Paterson train station to report to his job on the 107th floor of the South Tower was a local resident. According to Sayegh, who knew Kenneth, he was also a young man that loved skiing and snow boarding , was a Yankees fan, and most of all, was always “conscientious.”
The event, punctuated with the unveiling of a sign in Kenneth’s honor, was marked with the traditional playing of the pipes and drums by members of the Paterson Police and Fire Departments, as well as narratives outlining the events of the day from several city officials including City Council President Martiza Davila, Police Director Jerry Speziale, and City Clerk Sonia Gordon.
Both Police Chief Troy Oswald and Fire Chief Brian McDermott shared memories of members of their departments heading straight in to the scene of the attacks to aid in the recovery and clean-up efforts.
This response, which led to them reestablishing a flow of water to help douse the flames, Luis Vega, Paterson’s longest serving active firefighter, recalled previously for TAPinto Paterson “wasn’t even a question,” and a reflection that in firefighting there is no “typical day.”
Bringing tears to everyone’s eyes was Marina Arevalo, Kenneth’s mother, who said that the day, even 17 years later, is one that is “full of pain,” and that a piece of her heart is still “empty and hollow” from his loss. “I love you forever and miss you,” Arevalo said mournfully before joining her family members and other dignitaries in unveiling the sign in her son’s honor.
Among those in the audience was Ben Ochoa, a Teaneck resident who works in Paterson. While he didn’t lose anyone on the day, Ochoa, a military veteran, offered, he does believe it’s important to “always remember.” His daughter, just 11 years old, stood be her father’s side and would later say that she “feels bad for the people that died that day.”