Verona officials and residents joined religious leaders Tuesday morning to remember the two township residents who died when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Mayor Frank Sapienza led a moment of silence to recognize and remember William J. Erwin and Stephen L. Roach.
“Let us not forget the men and women who lost their lives 11 years ago this day,” Sapienza implored the crowd. “Keep them in your thoughts as well as the men and women who are currently serving in our military.”
Reverend Erik Spencer from the First Presbyterian Church lead the group in prayer urging them to “pray for the men and women who gave their lives trying to help others.”
“It feels good to be here,” he said later. “I felt a sense of forgiveness this time around. I'm not sure if that comes with age and maturity, or just with time.”
Brooke Cooney, a sixth grader at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School performed the National Anthem before Verona High School Senior Michael Hardenberg performed “Amazing Grace.”
“It was an honor and a privilege (to sing for the crowd),” said Hardenberg.
Sapienza thanked the township’s 9/11 Committee, clergy from the community, students from Our Lady of the Lake School and H.B. Whitehorne Middle School and residents who took the time to remember and participate in the ceremony.
“Today sinks in, 11 years later, like it was just yesterday,” said Sapienza, who volunteered at the World Trade Center site just three days after the attacks.
“Walking in that area is still very emotional,” he said. “Each and every person in this town lost someone, knew someone that was lost or was greatly affected that day. In my own mind, I will never forget.”
Cedar Grove Remembers
Later in the day, Cedar Grove residents held their own remembrance ceremony at town hall.
Cedar Grove residents John Eichler and Norman Rossinow were killed that day.
“It's a chance for the community to come together and pay tribute to our two own residents as well as rescue workers,” said Mayor Peter Tanella. “September 11 is a day we will forever associate with our first responders.”
Members of the Cedar Grove Police Department, Cedar Grove Fire Department and Cedar Grove Rescue Squad were all dressed in their best formal uniforms.
The officers saluted when the flag was lowered to half mast, and repeated the salute when the flag returned to full mast.
“It's a day of remembering and to honor those who gave their lives to save others,” said Fire Chief Michael Tower. “(The Fire Department) is a brotherhood, when one goes down we all have to be there to pull everyone else up.”
The memorial featured performances by the Cedar Grove High School Concert Band and Choir led by music director Jennifer Foose.
“It's an honor that they let us perform,” said Cedar Grove High School senior Alex Campbell. “It's a nice thing they do here and I am happy to be a part of it.”
“When I got up this morning I was thinking about how beautiful the weather is today, just like it was that day,” said Monseigneur Robert H. Slipe of St. Catherine of Siena Church. “The years have softened the pain but I had members of my parish that we buried. I remember, and I'm glad to see so many people came out to remember.”