Local events to mark 9/11 anniversary
By Ron Leir
As part of the nationwide 10th anniversary 9/11 remembrance, communities throughout the Hudson-Bergen-Essex region have scheduled ceremonies to honor the victims.
In Kearny, which lost seven residents in the terrorist attacks, churches and public schools will offer a two-pronged approach to pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 people killed Sept. 11, 2001.
An ecumenical service will be hosted by St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny and Laurel Aves., on Friday, Sept. 9, at 7:30 p.m.
It was at St. Stephen’s where town residents gathered for a similar service on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. Since then, individual houses of worship have marked the occasion for their own members.
But this year, for the 10-year observance, local religious leaders concluded that “it was an opportunity to bring everyone together for prayer,” according to the Rev. Michael Ward, administrator of Our Lady of Sorrows parish and one of the coordinators of the event.
“St. Stephen’s can fit the most people,” Ward added.
Co-coordinators are: the Rev. Joseph Mancini, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church; the Rev. Elaine Connolly, pastor of First Presbyterian Church; Dr. Lillian Ramos, pastor of First Baptist Church of Kearny; the Rev. Nicholas Connolly, pastor of First and Grace Methodist Churches; and Leonard Mackesy, deacon of Our Lady of Sorrows and retired Port Authority of New York and New Jersey deputy police chief who helped oversee rescue and recovery efforts on 9/11 at the World Trade Center site.
There will be a series of scripture readings and a sermon by the Rev. Elaine Connolly, Ward said.
People of all faiths are encouraged to attend.
Earlier in the day, the Kearny public school community will hold its own commemorative event, with help from various sponsors.
The Kearny Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association Local 218 bought seven new American flags to be flown at each of the town’s schools plus one special 9/11 flag, inscribed with the words, “Kearny Public Schools Remember,” for the high school stadium complex.
The Kearny Patrolman’s Benevolent Association Local 21 donated funds for a refurbishing of the 9/11 memorial at the stadium and for a memorial wreath.
And the Pioneer Boys of America raised money for seven special 9/11 flags for each of the town’s schools.
The 9/11 remembrance flags will be flown in place of the veterans MIA flags for at least one week and then the MIA flags will be restored.
That ceremony, which is not open to the general public, begins at 1:30 p.m. at the 9/11 memorial at the northwest corner of Kearny High School stadium on Devon St. If it rains, the event will move indoors.
Kearny’s Martin Nystrom, a retired president of the Maplewood Volunteer First Aid Squad who participated in the search and rescue at Ground Zero, coordinated the event – with cooperation from the Board of Education – with the intent of heightening school children’s awareness of the events of that day.
“I want kids to educate themselves about the World Trade Center and what 9/11 was all about,” Nystrom said. As a child growing up on Stewart Ave., he remembers how his dad, a construction engineer, used to sit with him on the porch – which had a bird’s-eye view of downtown New York – and watch the World Trade Center towers gradually take shape as they were built.
He also wants youngsters to get a deeper understanding of the role played by first responders on that fateful day.
Nystrom spent four days at Ground Zero – Sept. 11 to 14 – with hundreds of other volunteers, searching for survivors.
“They estimate that there were about 25,000 people in the two towers the day of the attacks and, of that number, nearly 3,000 died,” he said. “If you think about it, that’s probably the single greatest rescue effort in history.”
Among the dead, Nystrom noted, there were 343 New York City Fire Department personnel, 23 from the New York City Police Department and 33 from the Port Authority Police.
“Ten years later, if you were to ask them – knowing how it would end – if they’d go in those buildings, these guys would do it over again. Because it’s what we (public safety and emergency personnel) do every single day.”
In Bloomfield, the public is invited to attend a 9/11 observance at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11 on the “Township Green” along Broad St.
The Bloomfield Civic Band, led by Dominick Ferrara, will perform; a special 9/11 “Flag of Honor” will be presented to representatives of families of each of the three Bloomfield residents who perished on that day; and three red, white and blue decorative wreaths will be displayed in their honor.
On the evening of Thursday, Sept. 8, Bloomfield will unveil for public viewing the new 9/11 Memorial fashioned from a 1,000-pound piece of World Trade Center steel donated by the Port Authority. It is being installed at the newly refurbished Foley Field athletic complex between the flag park and the scoreboard on the north side of the field.
Martin O’Boyle, whose landscaping company has worked for the Bloomfield Board of Education, said the district asked if he’d pick up the steel from Liberty International Airport in Newark, “and we jumped right at the opportunity – we feel it’s a great honor.”
“It’s going to be a big memory,” said O’Boyle. “We’re going to take pictures.”
The landscaper feels strongly connected to the events of 9/11: He lost a good friend that day – Steve Roche, a Verona resident who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.
Other 9/11 observances around the region include the following:
In Lyndhurst, Angelica Branco, who graduated from Lyndhurst High School in June and whose dad worked on the 78th floor of Tower 2 at the WTC and survived the attack, plans a “balloon release” ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, in Town Hall Park. Attached to each latex, biodegradable balloon will be a paper tag with the name of each person who died.
“I want to honor the families who have lost so much and bring hope for the families and I want them to know we still remember their loss,” Branco said in a posting on her dad’s website, www.bncconsulting.com/september11.
“As I grow up and become an adult, it is important to me that the adults of tomorrow remember what happened. I want to get the children involved from our district in our memorial service so the future generations know what happened and never forget.”
Branco is soliciting donations to support expenses related to the event, including the publication of a “remembrance booklet,” copies of which will be given out at the ceremony. Funds left over are to be donated to the Families of September 11 and the 911 Families Association.
Nutley will sponsor a nondenominational Remembrance Service at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, at St. Mary’s Church, 17 Monsignor Owens Place, to pay special tribute to the three Nutley residents killed in the attacks: Lt. Robert Cirri, Frank LaLama and Dorota Kopiscko.
Nutley Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco, who is coordinating the service, is asking residents to display a lighted candle on their porch or an electric candle in their window between 8 and 10 p.m. and to display an American flag in front of their homes on Sept. 11.
Belleville will hold a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Belleville Memorial Park, Franklin Ave. and Chestnut St. The town will dedicate flagpoles in memory of three local residents who were killed. There will be readings and a performance by the Chorus of Communities Choir.
Harrison residents are asked to gather for the town’s 9/11 memorial service, sponsored by the governing body and the Elks, at noon on Sept. 11 in Library Park. Tom Ryan, a New York Fire Department retiree who was at Ground Zero on the day of the attacks, will speak. A reception at the Elks hall will be held after the ceremony.
East Newark will hold its 9/11 memorial observance at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, in front of Borough Hall. Municipal leaders, joined by borough schoolchildren, will participate.