OCEAN COUNTY – There were numerous services held in municipalities across Ocean County on September 11 including Toms River, Jackson and Manchester townships – as well as two county ceremonies.
The first Day of Remembrance observance was hosted by the Ocean County Board of Commissioners in the courtyard by 119 Hooper Avenue in Toms River.
Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph Vicari welcomed those in attendance which included Commissioners Virginia “Ginny” Haines and Barbara Jo Crea, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer, Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, 9th District Assemblyman Brian Rumpf and various other officials, staff and members of the public.
The ceremony served to remember the tragic events and lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. Nineteen Ocean County residents were among the almost 3,000 people that perished that day. Countless others have died as a result of Sept. 11 illnesses. The event also served to remember the men and women of the military that were lost during the War on Terror.
Musical entertainment was provided by the Ocean County Vocational-Technical School Choir who sang the National Anthem and several other patriotic songs during the ceremony.
“It was a day just like today, 22 years ago, and I was working as a principal at an elementary school and it was the most dramatic thing that happened in my life. I remember that I saw panic not just for the nation but in the faces of students and their parents. Many of the people who perished in those buildings that day were parents who worked in New York City,” Vicari said.
“It was a very, very emotional time. A time when America was under attack. We didn’t know what was happening but our main concern was one thing, families,” he added.
Vicari stressed, “we have to support the family members who lost loved ones in 9/11. It is important to them. We are the beacon of life for the world, for democracy. America was able to pick itself up and become bigger and stronger than ever before.”
“Today we honor all of them and we honor their families. We also pay tribute to the selfless men and women, the real-life American heroes, emergency responders, police and firefighters who risked their own lives running into danger,” Billheimer said.
“Like you, I remember where I was when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. We all have those memories. We watched on television what was transpiring in complete horror. Some of you were waiting to hear from loved ones that were in New York, Washington D.C. or Shanksville, Pennsylvania,” he added.
The Prosecutor noted that on that day, “we suffered together, we grieved together; our shared experience brought us together, our communities came together and we were united as Americans.”
Ocean County College commemorated the 22nd anniversary of September 11, 2001 at the campus with a ceremony that featured messages from new OCC President Pamela Monaco, and college history lecturer Robert Marchie and criminal justice lecturer Steven Agreski.
Alice Botein-Furrevig, the program director for the Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education served as emcee while Dr. Alfred B. Parchment sang the National Anthem and America the Beautiful. Business and Social Sciences Professor Lynn Kenneally read the names of those from Ocean County who perished on 9/11.
“It is hard to believe that it has been more than two decades since that September morning when it seemed like the entire world stood still with shock and grief. During that time the world has changed in ways we never would have predicted,” Dr. Monaco said.
“A new generation was born and grew into adulthood. Many of us still remember that day as clearly as if it were yesterday. Whether we watched those events before our eyes or learned about them in a classroom, each of us carries within our hearts a picture, a story and a memory,” she added.
Marchie gave tribute to a deceased colleague, Richard Trimble, who had worked diligently on a special OCC research project. “We lost Richard last year and he was integral in putting together a remembrance to 9/11 of the people in the county who lost their lives on that day.
“Richard was a historian and an educator in Manasquan and Monsignor Donavan and spent 15 years here with us and was my mentor and was the man who behind getting the steel that was left over from the World Trade Center that is in our library that is currently under renovation,” he added.
Agresti, a native New Yorker, told the audience that growing up he wanted to be a superhero like Spider-Man who also operated out of Queens. He joined the U.S. Marines and later became a New York City Police officer, rising to become a homicide detective before becoming an educator.
“I left the NYPD and became a school teacher. I talked to students and one student had lost their mom and dad and I met another student who lost his dad,” he said, noting that he had developed a special bond with the latter student over 9/11. “This is why I celebrate 9/11 because it brought people together.”