LIVINGSTON, NJ - Nearly 350 people attended Livingston’s Ceremony of Remembrance at Memorial Garden. The event, which was directed by Bunnie Ratner, honored the victims of September 11, 2001, and especially, Livingston’s Luke A. Dudek, Jeffrey Brian Gardner, Donald Thomas Jones II, Ming-Hao Liu, Joseph P. McDonald, John M. Pocher, and Kenneth Albert Zelman, who all lost their lives on that fateful day.
As the sun began to set, Livingston’s Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts marched, displaying flags and leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. The high school’s Vocal Chamber Chorus followed with the national anthem.
Mayor Rudy Fernandez delivered the welcoming remarks. Father Brian Needles read the Invocation and stressed the importance of love and compassion, saying, “On that day we were scarred by hatred, but today we are united by love.”
Senator Richard Codey encouraged everybody to remember the feelings of national pride that were expressed so strongly ten years ago. He stressed, “We stopped being the hyphenated Americans such as Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans, and we became one country.”
Township Manager Michele Meade read a poem of remembrance before she announced the names of Livingston’s victims. Brian Boyle, a Vietnam War veteran, rang a bell in honor of each name, and the Girl Scouts placed eight white roses on top of the memorial’s sun dial, which is displayed on a beam from the World Trade Center.
Three community members were given the opportunity to discuss how they were personally impacted by the events of 9/11. Joel Katz lost 66 coworkers and saw the attacks firsthand; his description and memories of that day quickly drew tears from those who listened closely. Barry Zelman and William Jones both lost their brothers ten years ago but found comfort in the support of community members. Zelman, who spent the day visiting Ground Zero with his family, honored his brother, Kenneth, by putting his picture on display. Jones appreciated the large turnout, and explained, “As difficult as it is every year, I take comfort that more and more people come [to the memorial] every year.”
Rabbi Mark Kaiserman gave the Benediction, saying that the town should reflect on the September 11th events with strength and understanding rather than fear and terror.
To conclude the anniversary event, Tim Griffin and his daughter Gabby performed Taps, and the audience sang “God Bless America.”
As the crowd departed, 9-year-old Livingston resident, Ashley Williamson, told TheAlternativePress.com, “I wasn’t born yet, but the memorial helped me learn more about what happened that day.”