BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ On a mild, seasonable Sept. 11 as it was 19 years ago, a crowd of residents, officials, Boy Scouts, family members and many first responders gathered briefly on Friday evening to pay homage to Bernards Township residents who lost their lives in the tragedy that unfolded on September 11, 2001.

The anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and hijacking of other airplanes was marked with invocations, comments, a flag salute, and the singing of the Star Spangled banner before the names of 18 residents killed that day were read.

As each name was read, a flower was laid on top of the permanent memorial, A Place to Remember, that is installed in a quiet nook of Harry Dunham Park off Somerville and Liberty Corner roads.

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Earlier on Friday, the Somerset Hill community was invited to join the Heartworks organization at its center on Route 202 at the Basking Ridge border with Bernardsville for a socially distant ceremony of remembrance with VFW Post 7858.

"It is hard to imagine that it was 19 years ago on September 11, 2001 that terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners in an act of terrorism designed to attack our way of life in America," Mayor James Baldassare said in his comments at the Harry Dunham ceremony. "I’m sure everyone remembers, as do I myself, where they were on that fateful morning when we watched the events unfold that would change our country and the world forever."

The mayor added that, "Cowardly individuals hijacked and flew two of the planes into the World Trade Center in New York City, another into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and had a similar plan for the fourth plane _ which was thwarted by the heroic actions of American citizens who were passengers, causing it to crash in an unpopulated field in Pennsylvania. Had it not been for the decisive action taken by those brave souls, God only knows what additional carnage would have followed."

"The 9/11 attacks caused thousands of casualties including many of whom were residents and dear friends of Bernards Township and our surrounding communities," Baldassare continued. "We lost friends, neighbors and relatives. We lost husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. We lost many rescue workers, police, firemen, EMT personnel and other brave and valiant first responders."

In his closing pray, Basking Ridge Fire Co. No. 1 & EMS Chief Peter von der Linde said that the group had gathered again on Sept. 11 "to renew our vows to never forget."

The continuing COVID-19 pandemic that has also sickened millions of Americans and killed nearly 200,000 US residents since last spring added an extra level of somberness to the occasion. Participants in the ceremony wore masks and avoided getting too close to each other.

Participants in the program included: 

Honor Guard:

Boy Scout Troop 54

Flag Salute:

Bernards Township Police Department,
Lt. Jon Burger

Star Spangled Banner:

Julie Baldassare

Invocation:

Liberty Corner Fire Company,
Chief Carl Blanchard

Welcome:

Bernards Township Mayor James Baldassare

Rose Ceremony introduction:

Liberty Corner First Aid Squad,
President Phil Lai-Len

Reading of the Names:

Bernards Township Committee:

Mayor Jim Baldassare

Deputy Mayor Joseph Esposito

Township Committeeman John Carpenter

Township Committeewoman Joan Harris

Township Committeewoman Janice Fields

Closing:

Township Committeewoman Janice Fields

Closing Prayer:

Basking Ridge Fire Co. No. 1 & EMS
Chief Peter von der Linde