HOWELL – Dozens of community members gathered for a solemn remembrance, marking the 21st anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Police Chief John Storrow led the service at the 9/11 Memorial Monument on Preventorium Road. The concrete dome stands as a tribute to the five Howell residents who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Each of the five arches forming the dome bears the name of one of the local victims.
The ceremony included a color guard, an opening prayer and benediction from two clergy members, and a patriotic song by a student choir.
Mayor Theresa Berger and other governing body members all offered words of remembrance. Storrow called upon those assembled to never forget the true heroes who left the comfort of their homes and offices to face perils they did not know.
Sharing the names of two personal friends who died as a result of the attacks, Storrow said all who had lost a loved one should know their sacrifice was not in vain. The police chief further stressed the importance of remembering those lost in battle in the years following the attacks.
“Even though it’s been 21 years, the wounds are still fresh in our minds,” said Storrow. “We witnessed great evil that day, but we also witnessed great pride and unity in the days that followed.”
Three members of Howell Township Police Athletic League (PAL) paid special tribute to the township’s five local victims. The tradition of remembering those lost now falls upon a generation of young people not yet born when the fatal events occurred.
Sydnie Vigliotti, who serves as a Director at Large of the PAL Youth Leadership Council, began the presentations.
“One man who left his legacy here in Howell was Joe Sacerdote,” Sydnie read. “This was a man who would not give up – a man who brought a warm and safe feeling to those around him with just a single smile, and a man who cared so much for his family and friends.”
Sacerdote and his wife, Arlene, had two daughters, and worked in New York City. Before his death, Sacerdote learned that one of his daughters was diagnosed with brain cancer and did all he could to help her. The teenager lost her battle with cancer despite all efforts to save her.
Vigliotti said she admired that Sacerdote had a black belt in karate, which required discipline, hard work, honor, and care in what a person does.
Alan L. Wiesniewski was 47 years old when he died during the 9/11 attacks. He was considered hard-working and caring and a well-respected Howell resident.
A die-hard Yankees fan, Wiesniewski was married and had three children at the time of his death. He always put his family first and was passionate about assisting the local community as well.
Wiesniewski graduated from Chubb Technical School for Computers and worked for the Sandler O’Neill Investment Banking Firm.
Officer John “Jay” J. Lennon, Jr. worked as a police officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He married his wife, Patricia, when the two were just 23 years old. The couple met as teenagers and Patricia said it was love at first sight for them both. They had four children together.
Lennon was one of 37 Port Authority officers who died during the terrorist attacks. He was a member of the Port Authority’s Emergency Service and Rescue Unit.
“Many of the survivors from the attack owe their lives to Officer Lennon,” read Sydnie. “Let’s remember him as a hero who saved many.”
Colin McArthur worked as the Senior Vice President of Aon Inc. and left behind his wife, Brenda. An alumnus of the University of Glasgow, McArthur’s death hit the college with great sadness. They created a scholarship in his name to honor his legacy.
The post-graduate scholarship is intended to express sympathy to not just Colin’s loved ones, but the American people as a whole. Brenda makes a generous donation annually to the scholarship the school set up as a tribute to her late husband.
John Frederick Rhodes was another Howell resident and Aon employee who lost his life when the plane hit the World Trade Center. He was a husband, father, and grandfather who loved his family more than anything.
A claims consultant, Rhodes planned his business trips to make sure he was back in town on the weekend to be with family. Rhodes also took up golf and was quite proud that he won the longest drive on a business outing.
Rhodes believed in living in the moment, rather than worrying about the future. He often said “Don’t worry about that down the road.”
Former chief of the Ramtown Volunteer Fire Company, Robert Kelly added to the solemness of the occasion with a recitation of the numbers of lives lost throughout the nation. He also included those who subsequently passed due to related medical illnesses after the collapse of the World Trade Center.
“Let us do what is necessary to care for the survivors and loved ones who were taken that day,” said Kelly. “And finally, let us try our best to reunite our country as a land and a people united as we were 21 years ago, following the dark day of September 11, 2001, and those that followed.”
“We owe it to ourselves and to our future generations that we not let politics or other issues divide us,” Kelly continued, “Most importantly, as Americans, would that not possibly be the best and most significant memorial to those who we have lost?”