It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since the 9/11 horrific attacks on our country…and yet, the memories are as vivid as yesterday. A defining moment washing over us like a tidal wave…..we can each say exactly where we were upon first hearing the unfolding news….watching on tv with incomprehensible fear….the burning buildings….the heroic first responders......the first collapse…..the second collapse….frantic attempts to get information about friends and loved ones working in the Twin Towers and surrounding buildings or the Pentagon or those aboard those flights bound for destinations they would never reach….. We wept upon understanding what had happened and to this day remain devastated by it. Terrified, we remember our schools on lockdown….trying to explain to our kids what was happening….friends and neighbors getting off trains bewildered, shaken and in shock….stories of “I was late and missed the train or ferry or had a last minute change of plans that resulted in fate saving my life”….the cars left in bus and train station lots whose drivers never came home.
For those who experienced the loss of someone special to them, the emptiness goes on everyday. I cannot drive by “Bill Tieste Field” in Chatham named for my friend who was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower, or pass the 9/11 Memorial in Berkeley Heights that bears the names of those lost from our hometown without thinking of this tragic time in our country’s history. In the aftermath of that horrible day, the Junior League of Summit, New Providence, Berkeley Heights and Chatham undertook plans for a “Walk for Remembrance” to take place on the first anniversary of the attacks. Hundreds participated, many of them children and teenagers. Over $50,000 was raised for the FIFTY children from these four small towns that lost a parent that horrific day. Even now, it seems incomprehensible….FIFTY local children. Those children are teenagers and young adults now, but we have never forgotten them, continue to say prayers for them and their families, honor the memories of their mom or dad and all of the thousands lost and whose lives forever changed that day. We must never forget.…..We will never forget.