Commemorating 9/11, 20 Years Later
WE REMEMBER: The 9/11 Memorial at the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad headquarters will be dedicated Saturday to those who lost their lives, and to the responders who helped with the aftermath, in 2001. A steel beam from the World Trade Center is shown as part of the memorial. (Photo courtesy of William Shields)
By Wendy Greenberg
Saturday marks 20 years since some 3,000 lives were lost when two hijacked airplanes hit the World Trade Center in New York City, another struck the Pentagon, and one crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa. Nine of the dead were from Princeton and 17 others were from Mercer County.
Several area memorial observances are planned, including events in Princeton, at Rider University, and in Hopewell and Montgomery townships.
In Princeton, the Princeton 9/11 Memorial Committee will dedicate a permanent memorial at noon on Saturday, September 11. A ceremony will be held outside the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad headquarters at 2 Mount Lucas Road (inside with COVID-19 protocol in case of rain). The outdoor memorial is comprised of a nine-foot steel beam from the World Trade Center, as well as plaques describing the events of the day, and mileage to the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Shanksville plane crash sites. “We felt that 100 years from now, this will tell the story and have impact,” said Committee Chair William Shields.
During the ceremony, the names of the nine Princeton residents who died will be read, and first responders will be honored, said Shields, who explained that the names were culled from various sources. The fire bell will ring once after each of the nine names; and will sound again for the New York Police Department, Port Authority, Fire Department of New York, and members of the U.S. Intelligence communities. The last bell would be for all who died or suffered as a result of the attacks in the weeks or months following September 11, Shields said. The event will feature speakers, prayer, music, and the police honor guard will post colors.
“We think the town will be proud of this,” said Shields. “We are not closing a chapter but opening it up so others can read it.”
The steel beam used in the memorial arrived in Princeton on March 24, 2012, with a safety officers’ vehicle escort, through efforts by past Fire Department Chief Roy James. The beam, which weighs 745 pounds, was placed in storage waiting for an appropriate home, said Shields, until the piece was brought to Princeton Engine Co. No. 1 Firehouse on Chestnut Street in 2015, blanketed by an American Flag, under a single light around the clock until 2021. A few months ago it was mounted, funded by donations.
In 2019, Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad President Mark Freda, now mayor of Princeton, sought a permanent memorial on the grounds of the Squad’s new headquarters. Many of the contractors working on the Squad’s facilities, along with other local contractors, donated services or funds to make the Princeton September 11 Memorial a reality. (Donations are still being accepted at c/o PACF, 15 Princess Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648).
“To me,” said Freda, “this is a very important event in our community. It marks 20 years since the day that changed life here in the United States forever. And now that we have an actual memorial in place in Princeton, we should remember the sacrifice of so many that day by taking some time on September 11 to acknowledge those that died then; and all those that have died since due to what happened that day.”
“It is hard to believe that so much time has gone by,” he continued, “and that so many in this country today were not born yet. But for those of us in New York City or Washington, D.C. or Shanksville that day, and those of us that watched this all unfold, it is a memory we will hold forever.”
Freda added a special thanks to all involved in the memorial event, noting that “this is an effort over many years involving many people.”
The committee asks attendees to park in the Community Park lot, located across the Princeton Fire Department on Witherspoon Street. Accessible parking will be available across from the memorial site, at the lower parking lot of the Municipal Building, accessed from Valley Road.
Other Princeton Events
The Princeton Pubic Library will host a staged reading and discussion on Thursday, September 9. After the Dust Settles explores three stories of unresolved grief, healing, and renewal following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The ensemble drama by New Jersey playwright Jason Immordino will be read from 6 to 8 p.m. in the library Community Room, presented by Magic Lantern Productions, and followed by a moderated discussion with the playwright, director Maureen Heffernan, and the cast. The reading is presented with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The library poster exhibition, “September 11, 2001: The Day that Changed the World,” is on view at the library until September 18, and a new online resource guide, Understanding 9/11, can be viewed at princetonlibrary.org/understanding-11.
New York’s 9/11 Memorial and Museum produced the poster exhibition that presents the event’s history, its origins, and its ongoing implications. Madeline Rosenberg, public humanities specialist, who previously worked at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, is coordinating the exhibition and resource guide.
“The library sees the 20th anniversary of 9/11 as an opportunity for learning, critical thinking, and reflection,” Rosenberg said in an email. “In that spirit, we are offering varied methods for understanding 9/11 in all of its complexity. This is especially important for members of younger generations, who have no direct memories of the attacks but have grown up in a world shaped by them,”
The Princeton Senior Resource Center offers a 9/11 Memorial and Tribute on Thursday, September 9, at 11 a.m. with registration required. The event includes a virtual tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, and a discussion about 9/11 hosted by Donald Benjamin, PSRC board member. Participants will have the opportunity to share their memories, thoughts, and feelings about the attacks and their aftermath.
A Tour of Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville, Pa., is the September 21 event, with registration required. Register at princetonsenior.link/go9 for either event.
An interfaith service to remember the Princetonians who perished in the September 11 attacks will be held on Saturday, September 11 at 10 a.m. at the 9/11 Memorial Garden located between Nassau Hall and Chancellor Green. In addition to prayers offered by University religious leaders, President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 will speak at the service. All are welcome to attend. The event will also be live-streamed and available for viewing on Monday, September 13 on mediacentral.princeton.edu.
A Zoom panel will be held on September 9, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The program, “9/11, 20 Years Later: A World Forever Changed,” will feature Gen. John Rutherford Allen, USMC (Ret.), president, the Brookings Institution, former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan; Razia Iqbal, anchor, NewsHour, BBC World Service; Amb. Daniel Kurtzer, the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies at the School, and former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt; and Jacob Shapiro, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton, and director of the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project. Register at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Center for International Security Studies website at spia.princeton.edu.
Rider University’s September 11 commemoration will feature alumnus and former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, a 1983 Rider graduate, who led Pennsylvania’s response to the attack on United Flight 93 in Shanksville.
“An Evening with Governor Mark Schweiker” is set for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Mercer Room in Daly Dining Hall, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville. The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics and Rider University’s Office of Veterans and Military Affairs will host the event. He plans to address the enduring implications on homeland security and counterterrorism, according to the university. Schweiker became Pennsylvania’s governor when then-Gov. Tom Ridge joined the Bush administration as the first director of Homeland Security. Ridge is currently the executive-in-residence of Rider’s Homeland Security Studies program.
Hopewell Township is planning a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday in Woolsey Park planned by the Emergency Services Memorial Committee. In 2019, a World Trade Center piece of steel, which was obtained by the Hopewell Township Fire District in 2011, was moved to the Bank of America. This year the steel will move to the high school on September 10. (It was not moved last year during the pandemic.)
Fire Commissioner Michael Chipowsky, who is the chair of the Hopewell Valley September 11 Committee and Emergency Services Memorial said, “We hope by displaying a piece of the steel recovered from the World Trade Center following the 2001 attacks at various locations in our town we can remind people of the terror that we faced at the time and hope that we will always remember the nearly 3,000 people lost that day.”
Three public events will mark Montgomery Township’s commemoration of 9/11. Three people with ties to Montgomery Township were lost in the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center.
The events on Saturday will begin with a 10 a.m. Remembrance Service organized by the Montgomery Township Volunteer Fire Department #2 in Skillman. The ceremony will honor the fallen New York City firefighters, police officers, and first responders, as well as all the lives lost and forever changed by the events that occurred 20 years ago. This event will be held at the Fire Company’s 9/11 Memorial at the firehouse at 529 Route 518, Skillman. The memorial was built by fire department members, using steel from the World Trade Center.
The Montgomery Open Space Committee has organized a 9/11 Serving the Community event with tree planting and environmental stewardship from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hobler Park in Skillman, 1645 Great Road (Route 601). Residents are invited to participate by signing up in advance and selecting a one-hour service time to spread out volunteers for COVID-19 safety. To pre-register, email Open Space Coordinator Lauren Wasilauski at LWasilauski@twp.montgomery.nj.us or call (908) 533-9302. Registrants will receive a link to an instructional video on how to plant a tree.
The last event of the day will be a 4 p.m. wreath-laying by Mayor Devra Keenan and members of the Montgomery Township Committee at the 9/11 Memorial at Montgomery Veteran’s Park, Harlingen Road, Belle Mead.
“The spirit of service is alive and well in Montgomery Township,” said Keenan. “I hope many of our residents will join with me in thanking the first responders who protect us today, while remembering those who gave their lives on that horrible day 20 years ago.”