UNION, NJ – Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Nine Union residents were lost that day. A remembrance ceremony for those nine and all of the victims of 9/11 was held Friday evening in front of Town Hall.
“September 11 was proof that effects of tragedy have no limits,” said Mayor Manuel Figueiredo. “They don’t discriminate based on race, color, wealth or religion.”
Figueiredo said that the tragedy of 9/11 has helped Union see a “reinvigorated sense of community and appreciation for human life; neighbors checking on neighbors, people coming together.”
A candle was lit for each of the nine Union victims:
Bella Bhukhan, 24, worked in Human Resources at Cantor-Fitzgerald. Bhukhan was described as a ‘real people person’, who always took care of others. She was very proud of her Indian heritage.
Edward Calderon, 44, an ex-Marine, worked in the Operation Control Center at the World Trade Center. Calderon was married to Debra and had two children Jeremy and Eileen and was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage.
Wing-Wai Ching, 29, worked at You & Me Voice. He was the youngest of four children and was remembered as quiet and warm, but driven. Ching liked to play basketball and was nicknamed “the Cool Man” by his family.
Thomas Fisher, 36, was VP of Operations at Fiduciary Trust International. Fisher was married to Susan and had three children, Andrew, David and Sarah. Fisher was a big sports fan and avidly followed the Knicks and Mets. He was a devoted father, husband and son.
Brian Goldberg, 26, also worked at Fiduciary Trust International. Goldberg was married to Jodi. He was described as a real handyman and spent much of his free time pursuing his hobby of photography.
Robert Hepburn, 39, was married and had two daughters, Allison and Jennifer. “Hep”, described as a man of simple pleasures, loved country music and watching the Mets and Jets with ‘the girls’.
Charles Karczewski, 34, worked at Aeon Corporation. A married man, Karczewski loved adventure, including skydiving, parasailing, and snorkeling. He was always willing to give a helping hand and often gave to the church, boy scouts, United Way and other charitable organizations.
Wayne Russo, 37, was an accountant at March & McLennan. An avid Yankee fan, described as a gentleman and a gentle man; a man of great honor.
Khalid Mohammad Shahid, 25, worked at Cantor-Fitzgerald. He was a graduate of Montclair University and Union High School, where he played soccer, tennis and was in the marching band. He was described as a selfless man. Shahid was engaged to be married to his high school sweetheart, Jamie.
About 100 people came out to pay tribute and remember the victims, including Union Police and Fire personnel, Union County Freeholder Vernell Wright, Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan, former Union Township mayor Pete Capodice, the keynote speaker, and Township Committee members Suzette Cavadas, Joseph Florio, Clifton People, Jr., and Michele Delisfort.
Union High School ROTC cadets performed the presentation of colors and stood at attention throughout the ceremony. Midway through the program, two cadets were overcome by the evening’s heat and humidity and fainted. They were quickly tended to by Union fire and EMS personnel and taken to a local hospital. They were both awake and responsive.
Wail Rasheed of the Islamic Center of Union County said, “I stretch my hand out to all of you, every single one of you, to help build our nation to bring peace and love across the world.”
“Tears in Heaven” was performed by Rich Kubicz and Poem 911 was read by Cadet Adnan Oudeh and “God Bless America” concluded the ceremony, performed by Robert Williams & Higher Ground Ministries.