LITTLE FALLS, N.J. - Nineteen years to the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a somber and socially-distanced ceremony was held by the Township at Wilmore Park, in front of the Sept. 11 memorial.
Approximately 60 attendees came together and reflected upon the tragic events that unfolded that morning, The monument that has served as the backdrop each year since 2011 to mark the decade anniversary then displays two pieces of five-foot long I-beams of World Trade Center steel and an 8 by 6 waterfall, with the engraved words "Never Forget - September 11 2001."
A special dedication was given to a resident and former resident of the township who both died in the towers. Linda Rosenbaum 41, was a claims specialist for Marsh & McLennan and Robert Cordice, 28, formerly a volunteer firefighter in the Township, was among the 343 firefighters killed that day. A plaque is also dedicated in his memory at the fire department's memorial.
Councilman Chris Vancheri welcomed attendees, and asked for a moment of silence marking the 19 years that have passed. He stated a lot has changed since then but that the 2,977 men and women who died that day will always be remembered.
"We will never forget those who died, especially two of our own - Linda Rosenbaum and FDNY Firefighter Robert Cordice," he said. "We are reminded 19 years ago that mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and grandsons, granddaughters, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends never got the chance to go home that day."
Local singer Stella Crispo sung her renditions of the "National Anthem," "God Bless the USA," "God Bless America" and "Danny Boy." Deacon Joe Sisco, chaplain of the Little Falls Fire Department, conducted the invocation and also read a fireman's prayer.
Little Falls Mayor James Belford Damiano then spoke, stating that the phrase '9/11" will always evoke a special meaning.
"For most, a sad meaning. For some, a call to arms that day. But for all, a memory of a moment in our history when the world as we knew it changed forever," he said. "So today, as we think back on the events of 9/11, 19 years ago, our sorrow over the loss of so many good people should be tempered by the example shown by so many who died, and so many who lived. They taught us through their actions that day what it means to be human."
Damiano said that many also showed the immutable value of duty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and love. He emphasized that was the only way people will triumph over terrorism and fear, and conquer the senseless tragedy of that horrible day was "by celebrating the kindness of the human spirit."
"Today, as we remember those lost, I ask you to join me in faith that the good will not only endure, but they will prevail," he said.
Damiano, along with Council President Anthony Sgobba, then placed of the wreath at the Sept. 11 memorial, followed by Police Chief Steven Post. The Cordice Family, along with Little Falls Fire Department Chief Jack Sweezy, placed a wreath at the FDNY Firefighter Robert Cordice Memorial.
Pastor Emily Youngberg of the First Reformed Church ended the ceremony with a closing prayer.
"We've gathered in this place to reflect, to remember, to refresh," said Youngberg.
Also participating in the ceremony was Boy Scouts Troop 14 and Girl Scouts, who lead the "Pledge of Allegiance." Amelia Brubaker performed "Amazing Grace" and "America the Beautiful."
During the closing of the ceremony, Vancheri also reflected on those who died post-9/11 for various illnesses when they were first responders on the ground.
"We want to recognize them as well," he said.
Vancheri also recognized Little Falls Fire Department Former Chief Ronnie Cordero and Little Falls Fire Department President Michael Burke, both who lost their battle with COVID-19 earlier this year.
"This day meant so much to them," Vancheri explained "As Mike used to say with this event, 'Don't worry, we got this. We know what we're doing.'"
Attendees held their cell phones in the air and used their device flashlights to pay homage to the victims. The Township also displayed blue lights on each side of the municipal building to emulate the twin towers.