WESTFIELD, NJ — Just footsteps away from a train station with access to New York City, some 400 people gathered Wednesday to memorialize victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Eighteen years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, residents still felt the loss, including that of the 12 victims from Westfield.
Carolyn Ibrahim, of Westfield, had been in the World Financial Center at the time of the attacks. Many of her co-workers worked in the Twin Towers and were unable to escape, recalled Ibrahim. She said she found fulfillment in the ceremony.
“There are a lot of places that I like to go in New Jersey and New York, but here is one central place to remember,” said Ibrahim, 48.
Built from donated funds and labor from local residents and businesses in 2002, the monument names each of the victims of the attacks on a glowing pillar, surrounded by smaller monuments paying respect to the victims from Westfield. It is the first permanent memorial in New Jersey to include the names of all the victims, according to the town.
“With the passing of each year, it is even more imperative that we pause and remember that fateful day, 18 years ago, when our nation was ruthlessly attacked and 3,000 of our fellow Americans, including 12 of our family, friends and neighbors here in Westfield lost their lives,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle.
Brindle read aloud the names of the 12 victims from Westfield who died, pausing as a train passed on the trestle above. The victims were as follows:
- Andrew J. Alameno
- David Otey Campbell
- Michael A. Davidson
- Dean P. Eberling
- Stephen Mark Fogel
- Thomas Glasser
- Leo Russell Keene III
- Richard B. Madden
- John “Pepe” Salerno
- See-Wong Shum
- Anthony Starita
- James Walsh
Robert Golden, a retired Marine Corps colonel, who now teaches junior ROTC came to the ceremony dressed in his army fatigues. He recalled being deployed following the attacks.
“Our whole world was turned upside down because just a couple of months later before Christmas I got orders that I was heading over for the war on terror,” said Golden, 56, a Westfield native living in Garwood. “I’ve done two tours in Afghanistan.”
Golden had come from two memorial ceremonies in Elizabeth earlier in the day, including one at the train station and one of the high school, which his 236 recruits participated in. Many of the recruits, he noted, had not been born when the attacks happened.
Memorializing the attacks has become a teaching tool. “They all participated, even though they hadn’t even been born yet,” he said.
Cheryl Swift, an educational consultant, who is working toward her doctorate at Kean University, said she was encouraged to see local youths in attendance. The Westfield High School choral sang “God Bless America,” and elementary school aged children could be seen in the audience.
“Now that we have a whole generation of people who never saw 9/11, I want to make sure that we never ever forget and that we educate them,” said Swift, 47, of Westfield. “So I was happy to see a lot of children here today and a lot of families.”
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh