WEST ORANGE, NJ – “Essex County Remembers,” a solemn ceremony marking the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11th tragedies in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, was held at the Essex County Eagle Rock September 11th Memorial located at Essex County Eagle Rock Reservation on Friday.
Emmy Award-Winning TV Host Stephen Adubado, Jr., PhD, conducted the ceremony that was attended by family members who lost loved ones in the tragedies, local residents, clergy members from diverse religious faiths, dignitaries and elected officials attended the early morning ceremony including Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, NJ State Senator Teresa Ruiz, former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake, Freeholder Patricia Sebold, Sheriff Armando Fontoura, and Essex County Executive Joseph Divincenzo.
Wreaths were laid at the monument and a new American flag was raised. Rabbi Clifford Kulwin from Temple B'nai Abraham presented the closing reflection at ceremony. In addition, a string quartet performed reverent selections of music at the memorial site after the ceremony until 2 p.m. And,
“Whether you lost a family member or friend, all of our lives were changed,” said Susan Rossinow, whose husband Norman lost his life in the attacks on the World Trade Center. “Today we are still grieving the people no longer with us and because of today we will continue to remember them.”
“When you experience severe loss, the brain replays every single moment,” said Ruiz. “It lends perspective and reminds us that we need to celebrate the individuals we lost and live in their legacy.”
Guadagno told the audience not to overlook the fact that the attacks were a criminal act. She also said the attendees should remain committed to “remembering those who lost their lives that day and those who are dying today. We hope that sense of loss is not in vain.”
“Because of that horrific event, we will forever wonder what potential could have been fulfilled by the lives lost,” said Oliver. “It reminds us as we go about our daily tasks that we should be thankful about the sanctity of life.”
Timberlake asked where everyone was that day and said, “Of course we all remember because of the tragedy.”
“As law enforcement officers, we know that at some point we will be required to run toward the danger instead of run away, said Sheriff Armando Fontoura. “After 14 years, we are still here to reassure you that you are still as safe as you were before this horrible event.”
United Flight Attendant Deborah Calimano noted that the response of flight crews during airplane accidents is rarely mentioned in media reports, “so, at least every September 11th, we get the opportunity to be recognized.” Calimano worked with the County Executive to create the Flight Crew Memorial, which recognizes the 33 pilots and flight attendants who lost their lives in the attacks.
“After the attacks, people spontaneously came to Eagle Rock Reservation to view the tragedy unfold at the Twin Towers and leave cards, letters, photos and flowers in an impromptu memorial in honor of their loved ones,” said DiVincenzo. “I knew immediately that this was the natural location for a memorial because of the public attraction to this site and the unparalleled view of the World Trade Center from the lookout area.”
He added, “Our September 11th Memorial is a special place for people to come for solace and comfort because of its unique location and its powerful message of peace and hope.”
“We must never forget the importance of this day and remember all those who lost their lives,” he said. “I encourage everyone to take time out of their day to mark the 14h anniversary of September 11th and visit this revered site.”
The Essex County Eagle Rock September 11th Memorial, which was created by DiVincenzo with the help of the Freeholder Board, was dedicated in October 2002, just over a year after the attacks. Its many elements pay tribute to the men and women, police officers, firefighters and other first responders who lost their lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania and aboard the four airplanes that crashed that day. It was the only 9/11 memorial to list all 3,000 victims’ names until 2011 when the World Trade Center Memorial was dedicated.
In 2009, the Essex County 9/11 Memorial was expanded to include a monument honoring the 33 flight crew members aboard the four airplanes that crashed. In 2011, a 7,400-pound steel and concrete artifact from the World Trade Center foundation was installed at the site and a bronze plaque was dedicated to honor emergency medical technicians who responded to Ground Zero and those who provided aid to people returning from New York across the Hudson River.
"The Memorial Tribute at Eagle Rock Resevation is an unbelievable event," said Sebold. "I have attended every single year since it first started. Overlooking the New York skyline and where the Twin Towers once stood is an overwhelming experience."
"The County Executive Joe DiVincenzo is to be commended for creating this area for an exceptional memorial," she aded. "I am happy that I was able to help in its creation."