ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – America is so much more than buildings, Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian Burry told the crowd gathered at Mount Mitchill Tuesday morning for Monmouth County’s annual 9-11 Memorial Ceremony. “And the things about us our enemies both hate and fear the most are beyond their power to diminish or destroy.”
That same message was reiterated in numerous ways as speakers from Congressman Chris Smith and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, to state senators and freeholders gave messages of memory, sadness, prayers and finally hope and gratitude. The ceremony took place on the site where hundreds had gathered 17 years ago on a brighter, sunnier, but more devastating Tuesday morning to see the World Trade Center burn and fall.
Smith noted and praised the heroism of the first responders at all three sites where Americans were killed in the largest single attack in the country’s history; Guadagno pointed out she was at the ceremony not as a former state official but rather as a member of the 200 Club, whose mission is to support families of law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel in the event of death or injury, providing scholarships and assistance for the families.
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Senator Declan O’Scanlon pointed out how the strength of Americans in the wake of the disaster is a demonstration of America’s best qualities, a point also emphasized by Senator Vin Gopal. The Senator praised first responders who put their own lives on the line to save others regardless of color or creed.
Each of the speakers highlighted the importance of remembering 9-11; Freeholder Director Tom Arnone noted that to the 25 per cent of the nation born since 2011, it is history, not something they have lived through.
Gabby Cinque gave stirring renditions of the national anthem and other songs, while the Pipes and Drums of the Atlantic Watch presented a bagpipe Interlude. The US Coast Guard at Sandy hook provided the honor guard for the program.
As she has in past YEARS, |BURRY highlighted the history of the day, from 8:46 A.M. when the first plane hit the World Trade Center through 10:29 when the North Tower collapsed, as bells tolled for each of the seven events.
The Rev. Chris Durkin of Colts Neck Community Church gave a benediction before County Park system staff placed wreaths on the 9-11 sculpture and raised the flag for a final TAPS ceremony.
In closing the ceremony, attended by more than 100 persons in spite of inclement weather, Burry stressed “Our belief in personal freedom and human dignity cannot be shouted down or silenced with bombs or bullets.”