With glow sticks instead of candles, several hundred people gathered under the massive Zorbas Tsereteli’s 100-foot “To Struggle Against World Terrorism” for an interfaith service.
At a time of political tension between the United States and Russia over the ongoing civil war in Syria, this gathering in this place seemed apt; the sculpture—often called the “Tear Drop Memorial”—was a gift from the people of Russia to the United States after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the hijacking of United Flight 93 in 2001.
“The heart must go on,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, of Temple Beth Am. “We are in the shadow of the tear drop. You and I know whose tear it is. It is the tear of God. On 9/11 God wept. God cried for the evil that God’s children caused. God cried for all those who were lost. God cried for us.”
The annual Interfaith Memorial Service and Candlelight Vigil originally took place in Dennis Collins Park near the Kill Van Kull, and was relocated to the tip of the former Military Ocean Terminal about nine years ago partly as a tribute to local efforts in the wake of the attack. The site of Harbor View Park served as a reception area for the waves of survivors of the attack, and a place where many of the refugees from New York were housed until they could make their way home.
In 2005, Bayonne inherited the Tear Drop memorial after Jersey City declined it, prompting a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a year later when the memorial was unveiled, former President Bill Clinton came to Bayonne.
But underlining the ceremony each year was the need to remember the people from Bayonne who perished not just in the 2001 attacks, but also in the previous attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.
“Had we paid more attention to that first attack,” said Rev Joseph F. Barbone of Our Lady of Assumption Church, “the second attack on 9/11 might not have happened.”
Until the attacks on September 11, 2001, most people didn’t even know who William Macko was. At the time of his death, Macko was 57 and one of six people who perished in the first attack on the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. His name is listed among the honored dead at the memorial at Harbor View Park in Bayonne, along with the 12 Bayonne victims of the September 11, 2001 attack. Macko, who had served in the U.S. Marines, loved to build things, which may have explained why he chose engineering as a profession.
Everyday people living everyday lives
Rev. Barbone asked, “Where were you on September 11, 2001?” a rhetorical question he immediately answered by saying those who lived through it will always remember.
Mayor Mark Smith said “Some have called September 11, 2001, the Pearl Harbor of our generation,” drawing nods from many in the crowd, some of whom had a living memory of both disasters, and indeed, could recollect where they were for both of them.
The victims of September 11, 2001, Smith said, were simply getting on with their lives.
Rev. Barbone, in reading the names of the victims, referred to two Bayonne residents who had perished in Pennsylvania after their plane was hijacked.
“They were going on vacation,” he said.
Patricia Cushing, 69, a retired service representative for New Jersey Bell, was traveling to San Francisco on vacation with sister-in-law Jane Folger, a retired bank officer, 73, when their plane was hijacked. Cushing loved music and became a season ticket holder at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City after her husband died in 1988. She accompanied her sister-in-law to every type of cultural event. Folger loved New York City and could not get enough of the stores, theater, Greenwich Village, or the World Trade Center complex where she loved to shop. The two women lived within a few blocks of each other. They shared the same tastes in conservative classic clothing and enjoyed cashing in together on the benefits of senior citizenship.
Victims of the Twin Towers
“To be in the place, see this vista and this view, and to look toward Manhattan is to experience the presence of an absence, towers that are no more,’” Rabbi Salkin said.
The other Bayonne victims perished within eyesight of where this gathering took place, a skyline devoid of the Twin Towers, but highlighted on this night by two beams of light.
Alysia Basmajian, 23, worked as an accountant for Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower of the World Trade Center, the second to collapse on September 11. She, her husband Anthony, and their child Kaela Grayce, moved to Bayonne in May 2000. Alysia and Anthony met, fell in love, and married while at the College of William and Mary.
Ana M. Centeno, 38, was an accountant with Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. on the 101st floor. Prior to September 11, she was known to frequent the local gym or jog the track in Stephen Gregg County Park. Born in Puerto Rico, she moved to Jersey City while still in elementary school. She later moved to Bayonne.
John A. Cooper, 40, grew up in Brooklyn where he excelled in sports and sold computer software as an account manager for SunGard Trading Systems in Jersey City. He was visiting someone in the World Trade at the time of the attack.
Colleen Ann Deloughery, 41, worked as a reinsurance specialist for Aon Corp. Born in Jersey City, she lived most of her life in Bayonne where she and her future husband first met as teenagers; she married in 1990. She apparently loved spending time in her tiny backyard with her family.
Ramzi A. Doany, 35, worked as a forensic accountant for Marsh and McLennan, the insurance brokerage company. Doany was born to Palestinian parents in Amman, Jordan, and lived for many years in Milwaukee where he attended the University of Wisconsin. He reportedly loved working in New York City, reading Charles Dickens novels, and Thanksgiving Turkey. Just prior to the attacks, he had purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
John Roger Fisher, 46, worked as a security consultant to the Port Authority of New York. He helped operate the security system installed after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. When the jetliner struck the North Tower, he rushed back to New York from a meeting in New Jersey to check on security and help with evacuations.
Orasri Liangthanasarn, 26, worked as a banquet coordinator for Windows on the World restaurant, located on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center, a job she started the month before the attack, after having graduated from New York University's master's program in food and nutrition management. She and her sister came to the United States from Thailand in 1998. After living a year in central Illinois, they moved to Bayonne.
Gavin McMahon, 35, was an insurance executive for Aon Corp. A world traveler and native of England, he moved to the New York area in 1996. He had fallen in love with New York after a visit a decade earlier. He and his girlfriend moved to Bayonne a few years later where he was renovating a house at the time of the attack. He was particularly fond of Formula One racing and an Irish punk rock band known at Stiff Little Fingers.
Steven P. Morello, 52, worked as a facilities manager at Marsh and McLennan where he worked for seven years. Less than two weeks prior to the attack, he and his wife Eileen had celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary.
Kenneth Joseph Tarantino, 39, worked as a currency trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. He worked as a substitute teacher while going to college, and met his wife while attending college. He eventually got his bachelor's degree in marketing. He was fond of golf, the Yankees, and going to a beach house every summer on the Jersey shore. He and his family had just moved to a bigger house in Bayonne the February prior to the attack.
As dusk arrived and the lights of the harbor glowed more strongly, the religious leaders prayed for peace and hope.
“With every hardship there is ease,” one said. “With every hardship, with every calamity, there is always some good,” said Imam Quasim Mazhar, of the Muslim Mirac Center. “As hard as it is for us at times to really think about it, how positive can come out of something so negative, something so tragic. After 9/11 these 12 years later, this gathering is witness that something great has come out of it, that the terrorists will never win, because this is what they wanted to stop; this type of gathering is what they fear.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.