MONTVILLE, NJ – The bell tolled eight times in Montville Township’s Freedom Plaza on Thursday, Sept. 11 to honor each Montville resident who lost their lives to terrorist acts either in the attacks on the World Trade Center or in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

In remembrance and commemoration, flags and flowers were placed around the memorial in the center of the Plaza to honor the Montville residents killed on Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988 – John P. Flynn (JP) and William Giebler, Jr., and in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 – Gayle R. Green, Thomas V. Linehan, James Martello, James Romito, Paul Skrzypek and Dennis Taormina.

Additionally, wreaths were presented to recognize and honor the police department, fire department and EMTs who responded to the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

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During the ceremony held by Montville VFW Post #5481 and the Township, many residents, township committee members, township administration, clergy and uniformed officials gathered to reflect on the world, our nation, our town, our friends and family members. 

The invocation was given by Rabbi Mark Finkel of the Pine Brook Jewish Center giving “blessings for our nation, government and all who recognize peace, security, happiness and freedom.”

After MTHS sophomore Rachel Levy sung the National Anthem, retired VFW Commander Frank Warholic began his dedication by saying “13 years ago the world in which we lived changed in an instant.” Warholic further recalled the “true heroism” we saw in many forms on that day including our police, fire and rescue departments, volunteers and rescue dogs.

“As we gather at this place of inspiration and resolve, Montville’s Freedom Plaza, we reflect on the ideals of hope, faith, strength, liberty, resolve and freedom,” Warholic said.

An I-beam section salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage prominently displayed at the Freedom Plaza “represents strength and toughness and serves as a reminder of the toughness of our American culture,” Warholic said.

Montville resident Tom Mazzaccaro spoke with TAP reflecting on the day a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks when he drove to “Ground Zero” in New York City to pick-up the I-beam from the site where the Twin Towers once stood.

“I received special permission from the New York City Mayor’s office to enter the site,” Mazzaccaro said. “It was a very solemn place. The people working at the site were extremely courteous and helpful. Personally, I was taken back about the enormity of the area. I felt in my heart the human suffering that took place where I was standing and could not help reflecting on the tragedy. After selecting the iron girder, the workers took it to a special area where is was cleaned thoroughly of debris. I was there after the fact and I can only imagine the emotions of those that were actually in the area as it happened.”

Mayor Don Kostka reflected on Sept. 11, 2001 as “a day of chaos, courage and grief.” Kostka recalled when the planes struck the towers in NYC, the Pentagon and the field in Shanksville, PA noting “over 3,000 Americans would die that day. Their killers…Islamic Extremists.”

“13 years have passed,” Kostka said. “We are in the 6th year of Mr. Obama’s presidency. Is the world safer? Are we safer?”

Kostka spoke about Obama’s presidency, the attempt to reset relations with Russia, the death of Osama Bin Laden and most of his Lieutenants, the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and America’s open southern border. Throughout his speech, he asked the question, “Is the world safer? Are we safer?”

Recalling the accounts of United Flight 93 that was hijacked from Newark Airport and brought down in Shanksville, PA by some passengers who knew they had been hijacked by indicating “there are three of us who are going to do something about it,” Kostka commented, “They did. They showed resolve. They showed extraordinary courage. They stopped the terrorists. What will we do?”

Warholic concluded the memorial service by stating, “We live in a great community. We live in a great country. Enjoy it and thank God that you are here.”