EAST ORANGE, NJ Thirteen years ago yesterday, Mayor Lester Taylor was a young Howard University Law School student who had just returned home to New Jersey from Washington, D.C. 

He remembers being excited because he and his friends were planning to fly to Jamaica on September 13, 2001. But then September 11, 2001 happened and both his plans and his life — like the lives of most Americans — were changed forever. 

On the 13th anniversary of the national tragedy that took the lives of more than 3,000 people and affected countless others, the City of East Orange commemorated the events of September 11th in honor of the victims and the valiant men and women in East Orange who responded to the call for help. 

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Mayor Taylor, East Orange Council President Quilla Talmadge, Fire Chief Charles Salley, Police Chief William Robinson, firefighters, police officers, emergency personnel, and other city employees gathered on the north lawn at City Hall Plaza shortly before 10 a.m., about the same time that the first tower of the World Trade Center fell. Led by Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Hooper, Pastor of St. Paul A.M.E. Church in East Orange, the group participated in a collective moment of silence. 

“We must always remember to never forget,” said Taylor. 

Afterwards, with assistance from Councilwoman Talmadge and other employees, Mayor Taylor ceremoniously planted a weeping cherry tree. The tree, which blossoms every spring, will serve as symbol for peace, hope and new beginnings.