Unlike the day of the terrorists’ attacks that took place 10 years ago, a light haze hung over Harbor View Park for the commemoration ceremonies on Sept. 11 this year as public officials, religious leaders, students, residents, and others gathered under the shadow of Zorbas Tsereteli’s 100-foot tall “To Struggle Against World Terrorism” for an interfaith service.
Religious leaders first gathered a few days after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and continued this tradition yearly since as the central piece in the Sept. 11 commemoration.
During the anniversary, however, many old wounds seemed to reopen as national leaders gathered only hours earlier across the harbor in New York City to unveil the monuments there.
“That day is seared in our memories for each and everyone one of us in our own unique ways.” – Mayor Mark Smith
“It’s hard to imagine that ten years have passed,” said Mayor Mark Smith in his comments to the crowd. “That day is seared in our memories for each and everyone one of us in our own unique ways.”
He said it was only fitting that people gather each year so that they don’t forget the sacrifice of human life.
“How on that day, we saw man’s inhumanity to man, but we also saw the face of courage written in the blood, sweat, and tears of police officers, firefighters, and EMS workers. We saw innocents slaughtered whose only sin is that they decided to get up and go about their workday lives.”
Thirteen from Bayonne remembered
Bayonne, long on the forefront of sending its children to fight for America, lost 13 people in two terrorist attacks. On Sept. 11, 2001, 12 Bayonne residents died in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and during the aborted hijacking of a jet airliner in the skies over Pennsylvania. On Feb. 26, 1993, a Bayonne resident died in a similar attack. All were honored with a new monument unveiled on Sept. 11, 2007 at Harbor View Park. The victims of the attacks were: William J. Macko, Alysia Basmajian, Ana M. Centeno, John A. Cooper, Colleen Ann Deloughery, Ramzi A. Doany, John Roger Fisher, Orasri Liangthanasarn, Gavin McMahon, Steven P. Morello, Kenneth Joseph Tarantino, Patricia Cushing, and Jane Folger.
Love, not hate
Rev. Gregory G. Perez – minister of the Episcopal Ministries of Bayonne, Calvary Episcopal Church, and Trinity Parish – served as master of ceremonies for the event.
“Bayonne remembers those who were caught in the path of terror,” he said. “We held on to one another when the outcome was unknown, and continued to support each other when the end had become clear.”
He spoke about all of those who had lived and died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, recalling Father Mike Judge, who had served as the New York City police and fire chaplain, and whose body was reverently carried out by rescue workers during the aftermath of the attack. He spoke about Cushing and Folger, who were on a flight in which the passengers rose up and stopped the terrorists from steering the plane into a target that would have cost more lives.
He remembered and paid tribute to William Macko, who was Bayonne’s first victim of terror in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
Perez said God is not about vengeance, but about peace and love. He encouraged those in attendance to pursue peaceful solutions.
For Frank Perrucci, the chairman of the Bayonne Remembers…September 11 Committee, the installation of a piece of steel from the World Trade Center was an important moment in this year’s ceremony. Religious leaders gathered around it, touched it, and blessed it, offering prayers for those who had perished as a result of the attacks.
They included Bishop Thomas Donato of St. Henry’s Church, Rev. Dorothy Patterson of the Wallace Temple AME Zion Church, Father Joseph Barone of Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Rabbi Gordon Gladstone of Temple Beth Am, Rev. Rose Cohen Hassan of Trinity Church, Father George Greiss of Saint Anthony and Saint Abanoub Coptic Church, Father Robert Pachana of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Rev. Laura Thelander of Grace Lutheran Church, Rabbi Clifford B Miller of Temple Emanu-El, and Father Bernard Nowicki of Heart of Jesus P.N. Church.
Instead of candles, visitors to the ceremony held up glow sticks, many of which were placed on the rusted metal as they departed the site.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.