Gov. Phil Murphy (D), along with U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) came to Jersey City for the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial ceremony this afternoon.
Prior to remarks from dignitaries, the New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran Affairs Honor Guard, the Port Authority Police Departments, the Ramsey High School a cappella choir, and the four Girl Scout Councils of New Jersey participated in the opening ceremonies.
“We honor the ordinary Americans who showed extraordinary resolve in extraordinary times. You know, there’s a saying that time heals all wounds, but of course, for every saying there is an exception and today is certainly one,” the governor said.
“Time may have dried our collective tears, but time will never erase the names and the stories of those we have lost. They will always be in our hearts, their memories will live within us, and as we look towards the heavens, the sky will never truly be empty.”
Menendez thanked the friends and families of 9/11 victims for helping push the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, as well as the September 11th Transparency Act, which recently led to President Joe Biden (D) declassifying documents from that fateful day.
“May the heroism we witnessed on that day inspire us and generations to come, as well as display the humanity and decency that united us 20 years ago to give us the wisdom and resolve we need to overcome the challenges of today,” he added.
In an impassioned speech, Booker called on Americans to embark on a “moral mission” to never forget and always remember the heavy impact this country felt from 9/11.
“That’s what I want to share with you today: it is the sense of moral mission that we all must assume and reaffirm on this day. Yes, we must remember the enormity of the loss – unconscionable loss. The obesity of grief that we all felt: we must remember the sadness that is seared into the soul of our nation,” he exclaimed.
“Yes, we must cherish those who lost. It’s not the occasional realization, but it is felt every single day – those who lost a parent, who lost a child, who lost a spouse.”
Wendy Lanski, who worked for Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield at the Twin Towers on 9/11, told her harrowing tale about witnessing the planes hit the towers first hand, recalling the confusion, shock, and horror of that day.
“It’s a crazy world, we all know that, but love goes a long way and education fights ignorance. It fights things like Islamophobia and hate and all of the things that are a byproduct of terrorism,”
“And I like to say to people when they say ‘oh, I hear you’re a 9/11 survivor.’ I say ‘yeah I am, but I’m also a wife, a daughter, a corporate executive, and a music lover and many other things. And I’m not going to let 9/11 define who I am, just like all of us do let terrorism define who we are as a country.”
She also noted that 9/11 compromised her long-term health and ended up contracting COVID-19 last year, but has since made a full recovery.
“My 9/11 health compromised my lungs and gave me a very bad case of COVID. And as I told folks on that day at the hospital where they said ‘you’re not gonna leave the hospital.’ I said ‘if Osama Bin Laden didn’t get me, I ain’t going from a virus.'”