An hourlong remembrance ceremony honoring the township’s victims of 9/11 and all who perished in the terrorist attacks was held at the Edison Municipal Complex Sunday morning.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks, which took place on this day 21 years ago, claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people including 750 New Jerseyans, 11 of whom were Edison residents.
Victims from the township (weblinks to tribute pages accompany each name) were Kevin Sanford Cohen, Prem N. Jerath, Sheldon R. Kanter, Vincent A. Laieta, James Francis Lynch, Brian E. Martineau, Kaaria Mbaya, Manish K. Patel, Deepika Kumar Sattaluri, Scott M. Schertzer and Edward T. Strauss.
Relatives of Cohen and Martineau attended Sunday’s memorial, which was moved indoors from the township’s originally scheduled ceremony site, the Lake Papaianni Memorial Fountain, due to inclement weather.
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In the ceremony’s most solemn moment, Congressman Frank Pallone, Senator Patrick Diegnan, Middlesex County Commissioner Charles Tomaro, Mayor Sam Joshi and Edison Council members walked up to the podium one at a time to read the names of the township’s 9/11 victims.
A moment of silence and the playing of “Taps” on bugle followed the reading of names, which were preceded with the playing of “Going Home” on bagpipes.
Edison Police Chief Thomas Bryan served as the event’s keynote speaker. His remarks recalling how the events of 9/11 united a country now divided resonated most with attendees, who reacted to those words with a round of applause.
“It was a time when the entire country came together,” Bryan said. “When you look around now, you see that the country is just so divided, and it shouldn’t be that way. I certainly hope and I pray that we can get back to that unity at some point. I certainly hope it doesn’t take another national crisis for us to come together.”
Deputy Police Chief Robert Dudash Jr. and Deputy Fire Chief Andy Toth read the Policeman’s Prayer and Fireman’s Prayer, respectively. Members of the Edison fire and police honor guards flanked the podium and faced seated guests, creating an appropriate backdrop inside the council chambers.
“When the towers came down, who ran toward the towers to save lives without even caring about their own safety,” said Diegnan, who was among a dozen dignitaries privileged to speak at the ceremony. “Our first responders, our firefighters, our police. We can’t thank you enough.”
Members of the Edison High School choir – Sadya Ahmad, Tomas Jiminez, Christian Lee, Robyn Nemeth, Remee Roy and Bella Wertz – opened the ceremony with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. J.P. Stevens High School Chamber Ensemble member Casey Decker followed with an equally stirring version of “America the Beautiful.”
Boy Scout Troop No. 66 of Edison led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. Cantor Emily Simkin of Temple Emanu-El delivered the invocation and benediction.
Edison Township’s ceremony was one of more than 100 scheduled to take place statewide this weekend. Similar memorials were planned in other 18th Legislative District municipalities.
Sunday’s message was clear. Thoughts and prayers must remain with all who lost loved ones on 9/11 and with those who subsequently lost their lives from 9/11-related illnesses or who are still struggling with physical ailments and trauma related to the attacks.
In closing remarks, Joshi called for all Americans to never forget the events of 9/11 and to support one another as they did in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
“Simply put, it was an attack on the freedoms of the United States,” Joshi said. “It was an attempt at hate around the world by some to dismantle everything that we stand for here in the U.S. We have to remember that they failed. We have to remember that we rallied. We have to remember what that moment all meant for us.
“Here in Edison Township, we choose to remember every single year through this ceremony, but we also have to be cognizant of the fact that on a daily basis there are individuals who live in that hateful mindset that choose to challenge us.
“We have to look around at one another and appreciate the fact that we are all Americans. And in this country, we all support each other, and we will be there to have each other’s backs should there be a tragedy.
“That’s what we did on 9/11, and if the message was not clear from every other speaker earlier, it’s that we have to rally and support each other on a daily basis.”