SPRINGFIELD, NJ — 19 years to the day that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 shook the nation and the community to its core, Springfield government officials and first responders were joined by a crowd of residents in remembrance of those terrible events.
With the memorial tolling of a bell at 8:46 and 9:02 a.m., moments of silent thought and prayers and a dedication of an annual proclamation honoring the day, those in attendance strove to remember the loss of almost 3,000 victims and first responders.
One such first responder in attendance was Springfield Fire Captain Marc Corea. After the ceremony, he spoke about the work of the town's fire department, which sent two trucks into the city to help with the crushing need for support across all five boroughs.
"The members of the fire department, we were inside the firehouse listening to the whole thing unfold when we got the report that we were going to be responding to the Goethals Bridge with other Union County towns," Corea said. "I remember as we were leaving the firehouse that day, a group of the guys before we left, we all said a prayer for the country and for the protection of everybody.
"We didn't know exactly where we were going to be assigned at the time, but we all staged on the Goethals Bridge [...] and once we were on the Goethals Bridge, they gave all the different departments assignments on where to go, and we were assigned to Staten Island, so that's where we stayed for the remained of the time, because those guys were at Ground Zero."
Corea also said that for him and other first responders, the most important thing, even all these years later is that the country never forget about those who gave their lives that day, including first responders and private citizens.
A similar response was given by Springfield's long-tenured Police Chief John Cook, who said that while officers from Springfield were not immediately dispatched in the same way as the Fire Department, they still provided aid and assistance to New York City in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
"We did send numerous officers over a lengthy period of time in the afterwards," Cook said. "Like going to the landfill to sift through the debris, looking for any identification of victims and stuff like that. We did have a lot of participation afterwards, and for quite some time."
"[It was] a time like no other I've ever experienced, especially when they stopped air travel. It was an eerie silence all over town. Hope to never have to experience it again," Cook added.
Springfield resident Andrea Blair was among the crowd that gathered in a socially distanced manner at the ceremony yesterday morning. She said that while it is a somber ceremony, remembering those lost in Springfield on Sept. 11 is still a worthwhile cause, all these years later.
"19 years ago was a horrible time for everybody," Blair said. "It was horrendous. And coming up 19 years later [...] we've never forgotten, and we remember [those lost] in a special way. It's good to see how we come out to remember them. Death is there, but we never forget them in our hearts."