SEptember 11, 2009

G.I. Go, Mayor Booker, Senator Lautenberg, Congressman Payne Honor 9/11 Heroes and Victims at City Hall Ceremony; Newark Pays Tribute to “Day of Service and Remembrance”

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, left thousands of Americans dead at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Thousands more Americans rose as one that day and in the months and years that followed to heal the wounds and protect our nation from future attack.

NEWARK, NJ - Mayor Cory A. Booker, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, G.I. Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous, and other dignitaries honored the victims and heroes of the most horrific terrorist attack on American soil on its eighth anniversary, with a solemn ceremony of remembrance, in the City Hall Rotunda at noon today.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, left thousands of Americans dead at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Thousands more Americans rose as one that day and in the months and years that followed to heal the wounds and protect our nation from future attack.

“We commit ourselves to making sure that the lives lost on 9/11 were not lost in vain. The light of their greatness shall not fail,” Mayor Booker said. “We shall ensure that generations of children born after 9/11 can grow old in a nation of love, light and hope. We will live in a nation that is safe and secure, has integrity, and pursues its greatest ideals.”

The City of Newark lost five residents that day, and many of its Police, Fire, and EMS personnel went to New York to work at the World Trade Center site or in support of local agencies. In addition, Newark Liberty International Airport was where United Airlines Flight 93 took off that fateful morning. The passengers on that flight rose up against the hijackers and prevented them from crashing it into their target, forcing it instead to crash in a field in Pennsylvania, killing all aboard, but saving hundreds more lives. A list of the five Newark residents who perished on 9/11 is attached.

Senator Lautenberg said, “It has been eight years since the worst attacks imaginable on the United States, and all of us are bound together by the sacrifices of that day. People of every age, different genders, names from different cultures and ethnicities, a picture of America, died that day. But while the wound is an indelible scar, despite the challenges we face, defeat is not in our DNA. We will glorify our memories of those lost by getting back up on our feet, and persevering.”

Congressman Payne noted in his remarks that among the heroes of 9/11 were the crew and flight attendants on Newark-based United Airlines Flight 93, who joined with the plane’s passengers to prevent the hijacked airliner from hitting its target in Washington. Instead the hijackers crashed the plane into a field in Shanksville. “It is important that we remember the crews on those flights. Indeed, every time we board an airliner, that flight crew has our future in our hands,” he said. He noted that Essex County today unveiled a memorial to the Flight 93 crew at its Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, as part of an already existing 9/11 memorial.

Col. Walter Alvarado of the New Jersey State National Guard, resplendent in dress blues, represented Governor Jon Corzine, and read a proclamation from the Governor. “The freedom we enjoy is due to the sacrifices of our service members. Americans do not fight because we believe war is good or in its glory, but to defend democracy and our way of life,” he said. Col. Alvarado grew up in Newark.

“Today is a day of remembrance. Remembering family, friends, and loved ones lost on 9-11,” said Fire Chief Michael Lalor. “It also is a day to remember the heroes. As Chief of the Newark Fire Department, I am proud to say that in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, some 75 percent of the ‘off-duty’ firemen in this City volunteered their time and responded to assist at Ground Zero…we do not remember days; we remember moments. 9-11 is a moment that heroes should be remembered.”

The keynote speaker was former Marine Sgt. Joe Pace, a Staten Island native and now a Somerset resident, who quit his job and joined the Marines two days after the 9/11 attacks. Sgt. Pace served three tours in Iraq and was recognized by Mayor Booker with a city proclamation.

Sgt. Pace said, “We came together as a nation, and didn’t fold. We did what we needed to do to make this nation secure, and since then there has not been an attack on our soil, and as long as we have men and women like we have now, that will not happen again.”

“September 11th is another day that will live in infamy. The tragic events of that morning have impacted our nation every day since. We must never forget the sacrifices of the first responders who ran into the fire as the rest of us looked on in despair. September 11, 2001, also saw many tremendous selfless acts of patriotism by the men and women who raised their right hand and took the oath to defend our country like Marine Sgt. Joe Pace. I stand in awe of their courage and patriotism and I am honored to stand beside him today not only to remember the terrible tragedy of that day but also to celebrate the American spirit that was personified by our nation’s first responders,” said Mr. Fanous.

The noontime ceremony was also attended by numerous Newark Firefighters, many of whom went to New York to assist their colleagues across the Hudson after 9/11, and representatives of the Salvation Army, AmeriCorps, the City of Newark Office of Emergency Management, and VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, in support of the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Etta Nappi, the Volunteer Manager and Community and Veteran Liaison for VITAS Innovative Hospice Care said, “My volunteers and I feel that it was a great event to honor the first responders and we look forward to a continued partnership with The G.I. Go Fund to support their mission.”

VITAS is one of the largest hospice providers in the United States, and it has a partnership with the Veterans’ Administration to provide hospice care for veterans and their families, including in Newark and the surrounding communities. They also support hospices in Sub-Sahara Africa.

The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center of Newark is a non-profit office, which provides and coordinates a vast array of services and support to veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Currently operating from a centralized location in Newark City Hall, The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center provides veterans with support for Veterans’ Administration enrollment, mental wellness, securing employment, education advancement, and financial support, among other things. The center is the first-ever partnership between a municipality and a non-governmental organization (NGO) to support veterans and address their issues in the nation’s history.

LIST OF NEWARK RESIDENTS WHO PERISHED ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

- Reverend Sean Booker, age 35, account associate, Xerox Corporation. A Newark native and lifelong city resident, he was working on the 93rd floor of the North Tower, at the offices of Marsh & McLennan. Assistant Pastor, Tabernacle Outreach Ministry, Newark. Mr. Booker was survived by three children, Sean Jr., then 5, and twins, Denzel and Danielle, then 3; his mother, Rose; a brother, Keith King; and sisters, Wendaline Yusuf, Lavern Montlouis, Stacey, and his twin, Sonya. All the family members are from Newark.

- Elizabeth Ann Darling, age 28, business analyst in the 97th floor of the North Tower, at the offices of Marsh & McLennan. She was the single mother of a 2-year-old boy.

- Daphne F. Elder, age 36, business analyst in the 97th floor of the North Tower, at the offices of Marsh & McLennan. Sept. 11 was Daphne Ferlinda Elder's first day back at work after a glorious week of vacation with her sister. She is survived by her parents, Jimmy and Josephine Elder, and five brothers and sisters.

- Syed Abdul Fatha, age 54. Born in Bangalore, India, was to take citizenship interview on September 20th, 2001. Lived on Roseville Avenue. Employee of Pitney Bowes in World Trade Center Tower No. 2, 102nd floor. Married to Nauza Umurally, Newark native. Newark resident since 1998.

- Harry Ramos, age 46. A stock market trader for the May Davis Group in World Trade Center Tower No. 1, 87th floor. Lived on Horiss Place. Married to Migdalia (“Micky”) Ramos for 10 years. Two children, a five-year-old and a five-month-old (at the time).