JERSEY CITY, NJ - Heavy Clouds hovered over the New York skyline like smoke on Friday, a foreboding reminder of the event that took place 19 years ago to the day. This serving as the backdrop for a scaled down 9/11 memorial in Jersey City.
In commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Jersey City officials joined residents and public safety personnel for their annual ceremony at the memorial at the foot of Grand Street shortly after 8:00 a.m.
While attendees gathered to hear songs, prayers, and speeches paying tribute to those who died on that day, and the first responders who helped in saving lives, the huge American flag that usually hung over the ceremony was gone.
Bagpipers played as the police and firefighters presented colors, a mournful sound echoing off the tall business buildings along the waterfront
Organized by the Jersey City 9/11 Memorial Committee, the 19th Annual Reflections ceremony honored the 37 Jersey City residents who went to work that morning and never came home, as well as the near 3,000 people in total who lost their lives in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the downed airliners.
Gary Nye, co-chair of the 9/11 committee, served as master of ceremonies, and reminded people that this event was going in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic “This is a different abbreviated ceremony due to the pandemic,” he said, but noted that the event needed to take place.
A bell tolled for each 37 Jersey City residents who perished as a result of the attacks.
There were also two moments of silence marking when each of the planes struck, one at 8:46 a.m. when the first plane hit the North Tower and again at 9:03 a.m. when the second plane hit the South Tower.
The ceremony, as in past years, took place near the rusted steel beams that make up Jersey City’s monument to the victims of 9/11.
The monument at the Grand Street waterfront was created from twisted beams salvaged from the ruins of the former World Trade Center towers, each from a different part of the structure, all together forming the shape of the letter A to stand for America.
For many who witnessed the attack and its aftermath, the moment has been etched in their memories of where they were and what they were doing.
Mayor Steven Fulop said the event also reminds people of the importance of the first responder and their selfless dedication. Fulop was working in financial service in downtown Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. He was so moved by the events that he joined the U.S. Marines and served a tour of duty in the subsequent conflict in Iraq.
Councilman Richard Boggiano said he remembered standing at Exchange Place after the attacks, and how courageous people were in their response to helping the victims. He said he’d never forget the first responders and the 2,000 people brought to the U.S. Army based at Caven Point
“This is hallowed ground,” Boggiano said.
Councilman Rolando Lavarro also said this event remembers those who displayed great heroism. “Freedom is never free,” he offered.
Among the officials was also John Guarini, chairman of the 9/11 Committee of Jersey City who was clearly emotional during the ceremony.
Jersey City was the first point of refuge for hundreds of people who evacuated the World Trade Center and lower Manhattan following the attack, with the city playing a critical role in the response and recovery efforts. EMS and medical personnel from Jersey City Medical Center and Christ Hospital treated the walking wounded and other victims who were ferried across the Hudson River.
That day and in the days following, hundreds of Jersey City residents and office workers set up refuge and volunteer stations at Exchange Place and in Liberty State Park to load first aid products and other supplies onto ferries headed to Ground Zero.
A stone like a grave marker stands near the waterfront with the names of the 37 people etched on it: Alok Agarwal, Ivan F. Barbosa, Sherry Ann Bordeaux, Edward Calderon, Swarna Chalasani, John R. Cruz, Jemal L. DeSantis, Andrea Della Bella, Christopher Dincuff, Samantha Egan, Barbara G. Etzold, Nancy C. Farley, Anne Marie Sallerin Ferreira, Boyd A. Gatton, Rosa J. Gonzalez, John Keohane, SeiLai Khoo, Andrew La Corte, Leon Lebor, Wei Rong Lin, Alan Linton, Jerome R. Lohez, Manuel L. Lopez, Joseph L. Lovero, Waleska Martinez, Francis J. Nazario, Angel Perez, Susan M. Pollio, Aida Rosario, Jon Schlissel, Thomas F. Swift, Mary Ellen Tiesi, Zhanetta Tsoy, Edward R. Vanacore, Nathaniel Webb, John C. Willett, Siu Cheng Wong and Matthew D. Yarnell.
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