BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Local first responders dressed in full uniform stood in attention during the annual September 11 ceremony at 9/11 Memorial Park in Berkeley Heights.
On this 18th anniversary, Mayor Angie Devanney recounted the timeline of the morning of September 11, 2001, "a beautiful blue skied Tuesday morning" when hijacked planes Flight 11 crashed into the north face of the North Tower (1 WTC) at 8:46 a.m., Flight 175 crashed into the south face of the South Tower (2 WTC) at 9:03 a.m., Flight 77 crashed into the western side of The Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. and Flight 93 crashed by its hijackers as a result of fighting in the cockpit 80 miles (129 km) southeast of Pittsburgh in Shanksville, PA at 10:03 a.m.
A total of 2,997 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. "We must never forget the sacrifice and the loss that our country suffered and our own loss in Berkeley Heights," said Mayor Devanney. "Lets take a moment to remember Township residents Scott Hazelcorn and LCDR Patrick Murphy. We must also ensure that the next generation and the generation after that always remembers these horrific attacks. It's also a day to say thank you, thank you to our Berkeley Heights first responders -- Police, Fire and Rescue Squad members for all you do to keep us safe."
Mayor Devanney asked the members of the Police, Fire and Rescue Squad to begin the procession for the lowering of the flag and presentation of the three wreaths. Reverend Matthew Dooley of Church of the Little Flower gave the invocation.
The crowd included numerous dignitaries including Senator Tom Kean, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, as well as Councilmen Manny Couto and Councilwoman Jeanne Kingsley. Also in attendance were first responders from the Police Department, Fire Department, Rescue Squad, DPW workers, and Township and County employees.
In Assemblyman Bramnick's remarks, he spoke of how we needed each other. -- "Nothing has changed in terms of my emotional response. The feeling of helplessness and also the feeling that our entire country was under attack. So from that day on, we looked at each other like we were one nation. We needed each other. We needed our neighbors, we needed our leaders," said Assemblyman Bramnick. "When we look at each other today, it's the same look we should give to each other each and every day. 9/11 should stand for one nation, one America. There's no reason to ask your neighbor where they are from, what their political affiliation is, what their history is. We should ask each other how can we help each other."
He concluded by saying, "9/11 should change the face of our nation each and every day. The attack will come again. There is no reason that we should not stand together today. This is a day of service. At least one day in the history of our nation should reflect the unity that is so needed today."
Assemblywoman Munoz followed in Bramnick's sentiment, "We are here to remember so that we don't forget. We must never forget those moments. We will never forget the images -- the brave men and women who ran in when everyone ran out. We owe it to all of them," she said. -- "Our lives were all changed that day, but our resilience and our resolve and our unity as a nation have been strengthened since that day forward. We must remember those days, weeks and months after 9/11 where we were unified as a nation. -- We must get back to that point -- remember we are one nation under god."
Senator Kean thanked "the people who are fighting every day for the American dream, those who are here today who run in when others run out. Those who work to make sure this community better and stronger, safer every day."
The ceremony concluded with the playing of Amazing Grace by bagpiper Ben Cook and a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m.