North Bergen’s 9/11 memorial ceremony was held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11 in Braddock Park. This annual gathering brings together local, county, and state officials, residents, veterans, and first responders who took part in rescue efforts.
North Bergen High School’s chorus sang the National Anthem and “God Bless America.” Religious leaders from local congregations led benedictions asking for hope, healing, and recovery for families of the victims of the terrorist attacks, and the courage to work toward a peaceful world.
Superintendent of Schools George Solter reflected on what it means to remember the tragedy in light of 18-year-olds who were born after the attacks. Future generations will view 9/11 as a historic event, rather than a part of their lived experience.
“We at the schools are the gatekeepers of understanding what happened on this day 18 years ago,” Solter said. “It’s our job to make sure that we keep the understanding of that day and how it changed our lives.”
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise echoed that sentiment.
“That night, I drove along the streets, and there were vigils taking place all throughout the town.” — North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco
“Every year, the county marks the Pearl Harbor bombing in Jersey City, where survivors and their families drop a wreath into the Hudson River at the exact time the bombs began falling,” DeGise said. “Since it first started, the numbers have been shrinking. Last December, there were no surviving veterans able to make it to the ceremony for the first time in over 40 years.”
North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco talked about the experience in North Bergen in the wake of the attacks, which took the lives of four North Bergen natives among the nearly 2,977 victims on that day.
“It wasn’t until the second tower got hit that we knew it was an attack,” Sacco said. “It was a virtual nightmare. That night, I drove along the streets, and there were vigils taking place all throughout the town.”
The ceremony was dedicated to all the victims of 9/11, particularly those from North Bergen: Port Authority Police Officers Christopher Amoroso and David LeMagne, Port Authority Police Lieutenant Robert Cirri, Sal Edward Tieri, and Sgt. Marcos Gorra, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.
The last photograph of Amoroso shows him assisting a woman fleeing from Ground Zero, before he returned to the towers and died attempting to rescue more people.
At the end of the ceremony, Freeholder Chairman Anthony Vainieri announced that there are preliminary plans to expand the veterans’ memorial in Braddock Park, to permanently engrave the names of all North Bergen residents who were killed in any armed conflict, including the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Currently, there is a memorial to the North Bergen residents who died in the Vietnam War. Vainieri said that memorializing all war-related North Bergen casualties is a must for the Braddock Park site.