RANDOLPH, NJ- "September 11th." Simply hearing or seeing those words brings on a flood of emotions for virtually every American. For many, these words can physically be felt in the heart, soul, and gut, and can instantaneously transport them back to that day when our world changed in 2001. Countless lives were altered on that tragic day, some dramatically more than others, but for all, it left a wake of images, memories, and feelings that will forever be burned into the collective conscious of the generation that lived it.
On the morning of Thursday, September 11, 2014, Randolph's VFW post 7333 held a ceremony to honor and remember those lost on that fateful day, and to give thanks to all those who responded to the call of duty, putting their lives on the line to help others.
Vietnam veteran and Post Vice Commander Ted Carman led the ceremonies, starting with the Pledge of Allegiance and followed by the symbolic lowering of the flag to half-mast.
He welcomed some of Randolph's' key servicemen, including Police Chief David Stokoe, lieutenant Jeff Gomez and Will Harzula, and detective Christopher Giuliani, as well as Fire Chief Kevin Dunne. He thanked them, and all of Randolph's first responder service men and women for their dedication and willingness to sacrifice for their community.
Carman then introduced Assemblyman Anthony Bucco. Bucco told a story of someone he met who shortly after 9-11 joined the CIA, and on his first day he saw an inscription on the wall saying "9-12-01". He explained that it symbolized that "9-11 was a terrible day, but it was the day after, and every day since that we have to remember, and come together as a nation to support each other, be vigilant, and fight terrorism."
Bucco spoke a bit more and concluded by saying, "I am honored to be here today, not only to remember what happened on 9-11, but to keep how we felt on 9-12, alive in our hearts. For those firemen, EMS, police officers, and those who protect us and our freedom, it is the greatest gift we can give them."
Mayor Jim Loveys then spoke thanking all for coming to "Gather in tribute to, and in solemn remembrance of, not only the lives of 3,000 innocent people tragically lost, but also the extraordinary courage and heroism of firefighters, EMT, Police and ordinary citizens who rushed to help on that day. 749 were from NJ, 64 from Morris County, and four resided in Randolph."
Loveys reflected upon that fateful day, and continued, "For anyone old enough, September 11th will never, and should never, be forgotten. Where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing will be forever etched in our minds." He spoke of how in about two short hours, those 19 terrorists had changed our lives and our world forever. "But on one of the worst days in America's history, we witnessed some of its bravest acts. The spirit and resolve and resiliance of Americans cannot be broken."
Loveys mentioned the memorials that have been erected all over the couintry to help people have a place to remember, and then said "There is also a memorial etched in each Americans heart, and that is the fire burning in us that provides us the strength and courage to continue our pursuit of happiness, and to defend our way of life."
Feeling the emotions within, Loveys then paused for a moment, and concluded, "We must never forget, for by doing so, we would extinguish that burning spirit, resolve, and resiliance."
Many members of the Randolph Township Council were also there to witness the ceremony. Deputy Mayor Joanne Veech was joined by councilmen Roman Hirniak, Al Napolitano, and Township Manager Steve Mountain
Carman closed the ceremony with some words of his own. He brought up the two wars that followed the attacks, stating "Thousands of our nations' finest paid the ultimate price defending our freedom. And thousands more have returned home bearing the physical and mental scars of battle." Carran concluded his talk stating "I think the best way that we can all honor the victims is by committing ourselves to our families, our communities, and our country. That's what makes America great."
To close the ceremony, Vietnam veteran Emerson Crooks got up to lead the singing of God bless America: