It was January of 1999 when The Cirri family moved to the beautiful "All American small town" of Nutley from Hudson County. They moved here for the same reason the majority of families moved to Nutley: better schools for their children, the essence of the town that was romantic and charming, a better family atmosphere & of course the food!
It didn't take long to feel welcome here. Nutley was warmhearted. Next door neighbors became like family often having BBQ and pool parties with the whole block. Kids running up and down Holmes street, happy, laughing, friendly as can be. Nobody was a stranger, everyone was a friend, even when we didn't all see eye to eye- we were respectful, loving and willing to understand each other.
The Cirri's became involved with Nutley's CERT and other volunteer opportunities, Robert being a police lieutenant and paramedic and his wife, Eileen, a long time E.R. and trauma nurse, they wanted to put their passion into helping others in town. Robert was a H.A.M. radio operator and had founded his KA2OTD repeater and had dreams to expand it into a backup repeater for New Jersey & NYC first responders from multiple agencies to use after systems in many towns failed during hurricane Floyd.
Mr. Cirri wanted to form a junior police academy for Nutley's youth. Mr. Cirri was not only the lieutenant , he was an instructor at the Port Authority Police Academy. He wanted to do something fun in town that would help expand community / police relationships. With the help of Mr. Steven Rogers, Mr. Cirri and Mr. Rogers worked together to form Nutley Jr. PD.
Sadly, Robert was killed on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 at the North tower along with two other Nutley residents : Frank LaLama and Dorota Kopiscko. Mr. Rogers saw it through to make sure Robert Cirri's hard work and plans didn't die with him. Mr.Rogers took the time to help form The Nutley Jr. Police academy and took into account any notes, ideas, and concepts Mr. Cirri had share and wrote down in his notes that Eileen , his widow handed to Mr. Rogers to work with.
Nutley was a united front as it always was. The town helped Port Authority hold one of the utmost beautiful funerals for Mr. Cirri when his remains were recovered from the rubble February 9, 2002 with a woman he was trying to save. Nutley allowed the family & all of those who came out to pay respect to Robert, including fire fighters, paramedics and police officers from all 50 states,use the Parks & Rec Dept. for an after service meet up to decompress, eat something, and get away from the hounding press. The Girl Scouts of Nutley raised money for flowers for the funeral services by selling lemonade, local shops and bakeries donated food to the families, and the Nutley Red Cross made sure there was grief support on site for anyone who needed. And the rest of the town's people made it a point to fly Old Glory on every house and shop in town and have a candle in their window or front steps of their properties with huge banners that read "UNITE WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL!".
This was the Nutley Robert knew, loved & chose to raise his kids in.
So, WHAT HAPPENED TO NUTLEY? That sense of family, community, respect, charm- did it die after 9/11 too? It will be 18 years since 19 hijackers killed nearly 3,000 people in the most horrific terrorist attacks this nation has ever seen. Their ultimate goal :DESTROY AND DIVIDE AMERICANS.
Are we really going to let evil prevail? Are we going to let Nutley's three deaths be in vain? Because that's exactly what we do every time we fight with each other over mundane things such as parking or even political views. We have become a town so distant from what Nutley truly is supposed to be. We have become so divided and so cruel to one another. We even go as far as using social media to slander each other. FOR WHAT? What does it accomplish?
Remember that part where I mentioned Cirri and Rogers worked on forming Nutley Jr Police? They we were on the POLAR OPPOSITE SPECTRUM OF POLITICS. Yes, one was a Democrat and the other a Republican. And guess what? IT DIDN'T MATTER TO EITHER ONE OF THEM! Because at the end of the day, they were two human beings that wanted to help Nutley. And so it should be today! But we all have become so blind! We have allowed who someone votes for define them vs seeing all the good they do and have done. Why? Would it have mattered if Mr. Cirri voted Bush or Gore to be recognized as a national hero? NO. and IT DOESN'T!
The beautiful town that The Cirri's and so many other's knew and loved, is no more. So, who am I and how dare I speak for anyone who lost someone on 9/11 especially the Cirri's? I am Robert Cirri's daughter. And although a few of us have moved out of Nutley and some out of NJ as a whole due to it being too painful to see that skyline that's no more....We visit often. We visit the 9/11 memorial in town and pay respect to every soul lost that day, not just my father's. And we make sure that Nutley preserves the memory of all three of the lost- No matter who they were, what their cultural was, or who they voted for.
Remember when Nutley was Nutley? I do, and I'd like her back