Gloucester Township on Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by dedicating its World Trade Center Artifact Memorial outside of Chews Landing Fire Department's Somerdale Road station house.
Several hundred people attended the two-hour ceremony on an appropriately dreary South Jersey morning—a show of both respect for the nearly 3,000 killed that day and appreciation for the efforts of 9/11's first responders.
"It shows that people actually care, and that everybody should come together and give thanks to the people who served that day—no matter where you are," Blackwood resident Chuck Headley said.
The 9/11 memorial monument consists of a piece of steel beam from one of the felled World Trade Center's Twin Towers.
"It carries with it what used to be around it, who used to be around it," said the Rev. Michael Mannion, Gloucester Township Police Department's chaplain and a key figure in Sunday's ceremony.
Retired Chews Landing fire chief Joe Reichert rang a bell at 8:46 and 9:03 a.m., marking the times hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center's north and south towers, respectively.
The Chews Landing fire station's siren was sounded at 9:59 and 10:28 a.m., commemorating the times the south and north towers crumbled to the south Manhattan ground.
Township police and firefighters spent about 20 minutes, beginning at 10 a.m., reading the names of the more than 400 New York City and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers, firefighters and paramedics killed on 9/11.
Like Mayor David Mayer and state Sen. Fred Madden, Mannion called on those in attendance to recognize the continuing efforts of the township's police and firefighters.
"God forbid we have a 9/11 in Gloucester Township. God forbid. But if we did, it's the men and women you just applauded who will do for you what the men and women did in New York 10 years ago," Mannion said.
The mayor's thoughts were also with the families of those who lost loved ones 10 years earlier.
"Their grief on the loss of loved ones reverberates through every community in this country," Mayer said.
Retired Chews Landing fire chief Bill Weiserth Jr. spearheaded the effort to bring the World Trade Center steel beam to the township—an effort that took nearly nine months and culminated with the beam's arrival early last October.
Weiserth recalled joining Mayer, police officers and other firefighters in visiting a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport last year to inspect remnants of the World Trade Center attack.
"It was not just pieces of beam. There were flags. There were vehicles. ... It was, again, a very humbling experience to go through (the hangar). No one spoke," he said.
Sicklerville resident Michael Souder, who was moved to join the military following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, described the township officials' decision to host a 9/11 memorial as "awesome."
"It's one of those things that everybody, especially Americans, should remember. Everyone around the world should remember," Souder, a 2001 Triton Regional High School graduate who served six years in the U.S. Army, said.
Mayer called the newest addition to the Chief Joseph A. Reichert Sr. Firefighters Memorial Commons as "a lasting reminder of both the evil that exists in the world and the strength and vitality of the American spirit."
"Just like this beam, at our core, we are strong and vibrant," he added.
The plaque in front of the World Trade Center beam reads:
Dedicated To All Those Who Lost Their Lives During The Attacks of September 11, 2001/"We Shall Never Forget!"