Weehawken unveiled its new 9/11 memorial on a rainy Wednesday in front more than 200 attendees in a ceremony that included remembrance, music, and speeches by local dignitaries.
The memorial consists of two steel tridents, remnants of structural columns of the World Trade Center, that measure 30 feet tall and 16 feet long. The tridents stand in the middle of an infinity pool. Each base is inscribed with the names of organizations that provided support for 9/11. The memorial honors those who passed away and the volunteers who served that day.
After being introduced by local developer Carl Goldberg of Roseland Properties, who helped finance the memorial, Mayor Richard Turner thanked all the attendees at the Sept. 7 unveiling, calling the event “a significant milestone.”
“It is a stunning memorial.” – Hudson County Executive, Thomas DeGise
Paula Dow, the New Jersey attorney general, spoke on behalf of Gov. Christopher Christie. “We showed the world that terrorism could not win, we would never ever succumb to the evil it represented,” she said.
Rep. Albio Sires (D-13th Dist.) spoke about his own memories of 9/11. “It is still so vivid in my mind,” he said. At that time, he was the mayor of West New York. He recalled seeing the ferries coming back from New York City with people full of dust, confused, and who had nowhere to go.
In fact, Weehawken-based ferry service NY Waterway shuttled thousands of people to Weehawken on Sept. 11. Some spent the night at Weehawken High School.
“We had volunteers to take care of them,” he said.
When he went back to the building where he lived, some parents asked him if he had any information about their son who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center.
“My heart just broke,” he said. “I had no information; no one had information.”
He closed his speech mentioning that “as difficult as things are, people [still] want to come to America because we offer freedom.”
Remembering those who perished
Cedric Fulton, director of Tunnels and Bridges for Port Authority, mentioned that 84 officials of the Port Authority died during 9/11, seven in his own department. “We have to make sure this day is never forgotten,” he said.
Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise opened his speech by saying, “It is a stunning memorial.” He said that as a history teacher, he began the semester by telling students that people either learn from history or we tend to repeat it. “Our date is September 11. We will never forget.”
State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack (D-33rd Dist.) praised the Port Authority, noting their efforts during 9/11 and their service during years running one of the best transportation systems of the world.
“They don’t always get the credit they deserve,” he said.
In his closing speech, Mayor Turner noted Weehawken’s rescue efforts, mentioning how the ferry was the only way to get in and out of New York because everything was shut down.
He read the names of Weehawken’s victims: Juan Pablo Alvarez Cisneros, Eric Evans, Chris Gray, Peter Klein, and Robert Vicario. After each name, Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue Firefighter Michael Alvarado rang the firebell.
While Keith Gonyou, retired captain of North Hudson Fire and Rescue Department, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, the attendees stood up and bowed their heads.
Mayor Turner then invited representatives of the police, fire, EMT and military communities to help unveil the memorial plaques.
Remembering those who responded
Participating in the unveiling were Patrolman Henry Zeeb of the Weehawken Police Department and president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Acting Chief Davis Curtis of the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue Squad, and Thomas Cheplic, vice president of the Weehawken Volunteer First Aid Squad, who all served here on 9/11; Staff Sgt. Christopher Jodice of the U.S. Air Force, who served two tours of duty in Iraq; and Army Specialist E4 Leo Sotomayor, who served for one year in Afghanistan.
After the unveiling, Weehawken’s High School Band closed the event, performing “God Bless America.”
Jennifer Miller, born and raised in Weehawken, attended the memorial event and remembered 9/11.
“I got out of the car and my girlfriend told me what was happening,” she said. They went upstairs to watch the news. When the first plane crashed they thought it was an accident. After the second tower was struck, she said to her friend, “That’s terrorism.”
The organizations listed on the memorial are New Jersey First Aid Council, Hudson County Red Cross, Arthur Imperatore and New York Waterway, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Hudson County Office of Emergency Management, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey Transit Police, Union City Police Department, West New York Police Department, West New York First Aid Squad, Palisades Medical Center, St. Mary’s Hospital, Arthur’s Landing Restaurant, Houlihan’s Restaurant of Weehawken, PathMark of Weehawken, McDonald’s of Weehawken, Roseland Property Company, Hartz Mountain Industries, Weehawken Sheraton Suites, Horizon Cruises LLC, Spirit Cruises, and Lincoln Harbor Marina.