Despite the pain etched on the faces of those attending the Remembrance Service and Candlelight Vigil Sunday night, the feeling in the air was one of peace.
The evening began with police, fire departments and rescue squads from across the county moving in a procession from the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy to the Sept. 11th Memorial just up the road.
The county’s September 11th Memorial pays tribute to all of those who died in the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001, with a special emphasis on the 64 victims from Morris County whose names are etched in plaques that are affixed to the Memorial. The names of all of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day are engraved in ruby-colored paving stones that have been set in the ground as a walkway surrounding the Memorial.
Freeholder Director Tom Mastrangelo began the ceremony by reminding the crowd that the loss the community felt 12 years ago is never far from their minds.
“As a community, we must continue to gather each year to remember the husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors who were so tragically lost that day,” Mastrangelo said. “We come together each year to make sure those who were left behind know that the lives of their loved ones will not be forgotten.”
Mastrangelo introduced keynote speaker Edward Dickson, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. Dickson spoke of the strides made in increasing public safety and the work yet to be done. But he also acknowledged the loss still felt by those in attendance.
“I am sure I am not the first one to say to say that I wish there was something I could say or do to take away your pain. Or bring those you lost back to you,” Dickson said. “Your loss and grieving ss public but also privately you deal with it every day.”
Dickson said that everyone who works in law enforcement feels their pain and it informs their work on a daily basis.
“From the governor who became attorney a few short days after the attacks down to the police officer walking the beat,” Dickson said.
The ceremony included the reading aloud of the names of each of the Morris County victims.
Before the closing prayer, Dickson spoke about a recent trip he took to the ground zero site, where he inscribed two words on the core wall of the new construction.
“I am sharing with you I wrote ‘Never Forget’,” Dickson said. “Tonight's service and the hundreds that will take place over the next several days are so important. Because we can never forget. We go forward with one eye reflecting on the past. And one focusing on the future.”