SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- With a large gathering of police, fire, and rescue squad workers on hand to show respect, the Township of Scotch Plains held its annual 9/11 memorial service on Friday, Sept. 11, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. 

Led by Mayor Al Smith, the ceremony included a prayer by Father John Paladino, pastor of Saint Bartholomew Church, and the playing of "Taps" by a Marine bugler.

"This past spring’s high school graduating class was the first one whose young men and women were all born after the 9/11 attacks, and the annual memorial we hold here may be hard for them to understand when compared to the tragedy we are living through today," said Mayor Smith. "It’s to them, and to all the young people who will come after them, that I want to speak to now."

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"At its heart, a community is an extended family that we join by choice, instead of by blood. We come to Scotch Plains to live happy lives, but also to give," he continued. "We spend our time coaching kids and helping seniors. We donate to our churches and food banks. And we volunteer to save each other from terrible injuries and burning buildings, just as the paramedics and firemen did in Lower Manhattan 19 years ago today."

"We do these things because we care about each other, and when we lose one of our own, it is like losing a member of our extended family. And a family remembers and honors those it loses."

During the service, Deputy Mayor Josh Losardo, Council members Elizabeth Stamler, Ted Spera, and Roc White, Township Manager Al Mirabella and Deputy Mayor Margarey Heisey paid their respects at the Scotch Plains 9/11 Memorial Monument on the Alan M. Augustine Village Green. They were joined by Diane and Kurt Horning, the parents of Matthew Horning, one the three Scotch Plains residents who lost their lives in the terror attacks.

  • Matthew Horning was only 26 years old on 9/11. He worked as a computer programmer for Marsh and McLennon, which had offices in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Matthew attended McGinn Elementary School and was a 1993 graduate of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. 
  • Mark Rothenberg was 52 years old on 9/11. An entrepreneur, he was on Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, PA. The passengers of Flight 93 bravely fought back against the terrorists who had highjacked their plane to prevent an attack on our Capitol in Washington, DC.
  • James Walsh was 37 years old on 9/11. He was a computer programmer with Cantor Fitzgerald. Like Matthew Horning, he was also in the North Tower. His daughter Caroline turned two years old that day.

"This year, Matthew would only be 45 years old. Mark would be 71, and James would be 56. They each had so much life ahead of them, that they would never see, and so much more to give to their loved ones, our community, and the world," Mayor Smith said. "We cannot bring them back, but we can make sure they never disappear."

"So, to the young people who came into the world after that unimaginable day. And to those future generations who will only see 9/11 as history, let me be clear.  Long after all of us here are gone, if anyone in Scotch Plains asks why we still remember Matthew, Mark, and James, let them know that this is what a family does," he said.

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