Remembering 9/11 in Bayonne

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On September 11, 2001, it seemed the attack on the World Trade Center not only damaged a part of the New York City skyline but crumbled the security we so naively enjoyed as a nation.
Bayonne 9/11 Ceremony
by Sarah Introna

Hudson County in New Jersey wasn’t in the direct line of attack, but we might have very well been.

For Hudson County View, I traveled to Bayonne. It sits on a peninsula enjoying a direct view of Manhattan like so many other Hudson County cities and towns. Generations here grew up with “the towers” as they knew them while the next will just see them in local history books.

I drove to Harbor View 9/11 Memorial Park where a candlelight vigil for the attack on the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993 and again on 9/11 was taking place right in front of a colossal stone pillar. In the middle, a teardrop hung.

Bayonne 9/11 Teardrop Memorial

Designed by sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, it was donated by the Russian Federation to the United States of America and placed in Bayonne in 2011. Each victim’s name etched on its base.

Almost every white foldable chair lined in front of a podium away from the skyline were filled by the old and the young.

It seemed like that drop of was the collection of the millions of tears cried on that day.

Mayor Jimmy Davis gave the welcoming remarks after the playing of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star-Spangled Banner but it was the clergymen with their prayers and spiritual accolades of strength in God that resonated with the audience.

To your left and right, you heard their shaky “amens” as they held back tears. The atmosphere was respectful and somber.

As one resident said they [the politicians] can keep their rallies but coming here is about showing respect not only for those who died but for the firefighters who died trying to save them and the family members they left behind.

Rabbi Jeffrey Sakin of Temple Beth Am said he wonders how many children are named after the men and women whom they never met. He added in the Jewish religion 13 was the age of spiritual maturity and for the nation on the 13th anniversary of 9/11 it was true for the nation.

But although we saw evil on that day as one clergyman alluded to, evil is still of this world referring to the terrorist group ISIS. The militants behind the beheading of two American journalists and the countless deaths of Yazidi men, women, and children in Iraq.

The attack on the World Trade Center and the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93 shook the United States to the ground, but also brought it together.

I saw that to be true in Bayonne as they stood on their feet singing along to America the Beautiful led by Bayonne High School soloist Jose Candelaria.

The first responders and police officers in full uniform stood on the perimeter like a shield always ready to protect.

As the sun dipped in the horizon and New York’s lights came on one by one in the distance,I watched one family leave roses on top of the names visible even in the dark.

And as everyone made their way to take pictures of the skyline where two pillars of light shot up into the sky from ground zero, the Freedom Tower stood tall and proud.

I felt immense pride in my nation and sorry for it at the same time because while we looked into the distance police patrolled the harbor. Their flashing red and blue lights reminding us we’re still on high alert.

We can’t go back to how it used to be. Some say we can never go back. But in Bayonne, I felt the American spirit shine bright and at that moment I didn’t believe them.