FAIRFIELD, NJ — The Fairfield Township mayor and council, along with the Fairfield Police and Fire Departments, solemnly remembered the events of 9/11 at a memorial service at the memorial garden situated on the front lawn of town hall on Wednesday evening.
“On this day, our community comes together once again to remember all those who lost their lives on 9/11 and also to pay tribute to the rescue workers who put their lives on the line every day, everywhere, on our behalf,” said Fairfield Township Mayor James Gasparini. “We will always remember the lives lost 18 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, especially one of our own, John P. Salamone.”
Salamone, a graduate of West Essex High School who preferred stocks for Cantor Fitzgerald, was 37 years old when the attacks occurred. He and his wife, Mary Ellen, had three children, Alex, Aidan and Anna, who were ages 6, 4 and 3 at the time he died.
Gasparini led the crowd in a moment of silence “to pay tribute to the victims, heroes and those still serving this great country of ours.”
Fairfield Township Police Chief Anthony Manna said he remembers that day like it was yesterday. By 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, hours after the first plane hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower at 8:46 a.m., Manna said he and other Fairfield members were at the site and that he distinctly remembers the unnerving atmosphere in Manhattan. The hustling, bustling city was covered in dust and enveloped in an eerie silence, he said.
Manna, who was on site when building seven collapsed, said it was terrifying to see the 50-story building fall.
“We ran for our lives,” said Manna, added that he could not imagine what it was like to experience the collapse of the 100-story North and South towers.
He also described what it was like to have communication systems down when people were trying to get word to their families. Knowing this, a Fairfield business donated cell phones to be passed out to first responders, according to Manna, who concluded that it “was a very tough day.”
West Essex High School student Joey Przybylinski, the son of Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department Captain Joseph Przybylinski, spoke during the Fairfield 9/11 memorial service about what it was like to be born after 9/11.
Being taught about the tragedy of that day and about the many heroes who assisted in the rescue through family members and school, Joey said he continues to be interested in learning more about what happened that day, what happened afterwards and how sports contributed to the country’s healing.
Phil Oddo, a long-time Fairfield resident and member of St. Thomas More’s Knights of Columbus, thanked the township for the memorial service, stating that it is appropriate for the community to continue to “come together on this day to remember what we went through.”
“It is important to continue to remember what happened in the past,” said Councilman John La Forgia. “It can only help to protect our future.”