More than 500 people came Sunday morning to the “crossroads of Somerset County” to remember the 39 county residents who were killed in the 9/11 attacks.
"I thought it was my responsibility to come here and honor those who died,” former Bedminster Mayor Joseph Metelski said.
As a living memorial to those who died in the attacks, the county freeholders planted a weeping cherry tree on the front lawn of the courthouse, not far from the county’s 9/11 memorial at the corner of Bridge and Main streets in Somerville.
The solemn ceremony under gray skies was punctuated by the mournful tolling of the Historic Courthouse bell and the Somerset County Police Pipes & Drums playing “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace.”
The main speakers for the event, which began at 8:46 a.m., the moment when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, were Charles B. McKenna, director of the New Jersey State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness who was representing Gov. Chris Christie, and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th District), whose district includes a large portion of Somerset County.
McKenna said that on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Americans should remember the nation’s response. “Let us work together to remember the emotion of national unity and good will,’’ he said.
"It was a time not no other,” McKenna said, noting the “unity and selflessness of people helping people."
Lance, who presented a flag to the freeholders that had flown over the Capitol, said Americans have displayed the “the genius and tenacity to overcome the scourge of terrorism.”
"Overcome it we shall," Lance said.
Lance said that 746 New Jersey residents died in the 9/11 attacks. That number was second only to the amount of New York State residents killed.
Freeholder Director Robert Zaborowski said the attacks were “unimaginable” and “changed all of our lives.” Now is the time, he said, to honor “the ordinary citizens who rose to extraordinary heights of honor.”
"The tree, with its symbolism of hope and renewal, will be a lasting tribute to the wives, husbands, sons, daughters, parents and siblings who perished on Sept. 11,” Zaborowski said.
State Sen. Kip Bateman (R-16th District) said the county residents should “say a prayer that this will never happen again during our lifetimes.”
Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher said the victims of 9/11 and the first-responders who lost their lives should be honored “because they gave their lives for principles above themselves.” He also said the lessons of 9/11 should be “re-enforced” in all Americians, “especially children."
The freeholders read the names of the 39 Somerset County residents who died on 9/11:
Evan Jay Baron
David O. Campbell
William Fallon, Jr.
John W. Farrell
Louis Fersini, Jr.
Robert John Halligan
Kevin James Hannaford
John Clinton Hartz
Christopher N. Ingrassia
Allison Horstmann Jones
Alvin Kappelmann, Jr.
Stacey Sennas McGowan
Hashmukhrai C. Parmar
Stephen E. Poulos
Thomas B. Reinig
Timothy Patrick Soulas
Craig W. Staub
Ronald G. Tartaro
Honor Elizabeth Wainio
Alison Marie Wildman
Frank Thomas Wisniewski