HOWELL – Residents and officials in Howell Township remembered those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks as the town marked the 20th anniversary with a memorial service.
On September 10, Howell officials, police officers, firefighters and emergency services personnel gathered at the 9/11 memorial on Preventorium Road to remember the events of that day and how it affected several people.
The ceremony also honored five Howell residents who were killed on September 11, 2001: John J. Lennon Jr., Colin Richard McArthur, John Frederick Rhodes, Joseph Sacerdote and Alan L. Wisniewski.
“20 years ago, the country changed…20 years ago this evening was the last evening for many families. Nearly 3,000 people died that day,” Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick said. “Of those 3,000 people, 343 were firefighters, 71 were police officers and 55 were our military personnel. Five of those 3,000 people were Howell residents. Not too many towns across the United States can claim their town was affected by an act of terrorism. Unfortunately, ours, like many others in New Jersey, was one of them.”
Kudrick went on to explain why it’s so important to recognize this day and that many have already forgotten it.
“Fortunately, we all recognize the importance of 9/11, and that’s the reason why we’re here today. We did not forget, but sadly, 20 years have passed and many have. Many of us recall the sadness and the anger we had on that day and many of the days that followed, and for many of us that anger and sorrow still exist, especially around this time,” Kudrick said. “The world definitely has changed, for our young people, and the majority of my police officers, who were not around during that time. So, it is important for all of us to keep the memory of that day and the events that transpired afterward.”
Although 9/11 didn’t change the Howell community too much, the Township has always been a tight-knit community with a small town feel even though it’s very populated. Kudrick said how there’s never been hostility towards police officers or emergency services, and he’s very fortunate for that.
“As a police chief, I’m very fortunate to lead a department full of men and women who are the utmost professionals. 9/11, terrorism is on my mind every single day. It is something that is at the forefront of my administration, especially concerning our schools. Because we know that could happen again and that is why we cannot forget,” Kudrick said.
Mayor Theresa Berger expressed how symbolic the Howell memorial is and explained what each design and piece represented.
“The memorial floor is etched with the New York skyline and each of the five cord arms is an arch that comprises the structure of the Pentagon shape, and each one represents members of our Howell community that passed during this event. On the pillars are symbols of American freedom: the Twin Towers, the Statue of Liberty, and the bald eagle; as well as a plaque for each member of Howell,” Berger said. “The pillars meet at the pentagon above. It is meant to symbolize the U.S. Pentagon and the people killed there. Inside the structure is a boulder from Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 crashed, and there is also a piece of the World Trade Center.”
“For me the sense of community was never stronger than the days, weeks and months following the attack. The tragedy made strange friendships that linked so strongly,” Berger said.