CHATHAM, NJ - Friday was a day of remembrance all across the nation. For on September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 American lives were lost during a terrorist attack when hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, and into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
A third hijacked airplane was meant to crash into the Capitol Building, but instead crashed into an open field in Stony Creek Township, Pennsylvania, after the passenger attempted to retake the plane. No one aboard survived.
9/11 victims came from all over the country, with countless memorials erected in almost every community of the New York Metropolitan Area. And for Chatham Borough, this was a time to recognize 13 local residents who perished at the World Trade Center.
“It was day like any other but ended in death of 2,977 Americans, including 13 right here in the Chathams,” Chatham Borough Councilman Robert Weber said.
“Our presence here today during an ongoing public health pandemic is a testament for our commitment to honor this day and all the lives tragically, and unexpectedly, taken from us. In these trying times, it would have been easy to simply cancel the event. Yet despite our current circumstances, here we are gathered together to pay our respects to all of the fallen.”
Chatham Borough Council member Bob Weber talks about heroes in his remembrance speech
Chatham Borough has three sites that are dedicated to those lost on September 11th; one at Reasoner Park, recognizing all victims lost; one at Memorial Park, in honor of the 13 Chatham victims; and one at the Chatham Train Station, recognizing the last area that the 13 residents were last seen on their way to New York City and never returned.
“We must never take our freedom for granted,” Weber said. “We hope to see you all next year and to never forget.”
Michelle Finnerty sang "God Bless America" at 9-11 ceremony
The ceremony was organized by the Chatham Borough 9/11 Committee, as well as the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, Inc., who has held dedications since 2003. And Friday evening, about 150 people gathered at Memorial Park to honor their lost neighbors. Also in attendance, there were the Chatham Borough Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Chatham Emergency Squad.
“On behalf of the 9/11 Memorial Committee, and the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, Inc., we like to welcome all of you to the 19th anniversary remembrance ceremony,” Daniel J. Smith, Jr., chairman of the 9/11 Memorial Committee, said.
“Stuff like this is not possible with everyone’s help. I like to thank especially our police and fire departments, as well as the Chatham Emergency Squad for all the support they have given us.”
After speeches, the names of all 13 Chatham victims were read aloud and roses were placed on their plaques. These names included Donald L. Adams, Dennis Buckley, Paul S. Gilbey, Gary R. Haag, Anthony P. Infante Jr., Robin B. Larkey, Christian H. Maltby, Philip W. Mastrandrea, Peter C. Moutos, Thomas Strada, Kenneth J. Swenson, William R. Tieste, and Peter M. West.
“Help us on this night to rebuild and restore the ruined and devastated,” said Father Bob Mitchell, of the St. Patrick’s Church of Chatham, in a closing prayer. “May we renew the cities that have been devastated through this 9/11 tragedy.”
The remembrance ceremony lasted only a half-hour with the crowd dispersing soon after, while some stuck around to view and pay respect at the local monument.
“It’s not the mistake we make that matter, it’s remembering these people,” said Douglas Allan, member of the 9/11 Memorial Committee. “They are gone, but not forgotten.”
Boy Scout Troop 8 and Girl Scout troops 2076, 6193, 280, and 1203 also lead the crowd into the pledge of allegiance and placed roses on the victims’ plaques.
Local singer Michelle Finnerty sang two songs, “God Bless America” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” while Chatham resident Todd Ferrie further played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
Donations to the 9/11 Memorial Committee, and the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, Inc., can always be made at P.O. Box 42, in Chatham.