Residents and elected officials in Belleville and Nutley remembered 9/11 with two separate ceremonies on Tuesday.
At the Belleville 9/11 Memorial site at Franklin Avenue and Chestnut Street, a wreath was placed by a small group of residents, who also planted small flags around the site.
At the 9/11 Memorial located in front of Nutley Town Hall on Chestnut Street, residents wept and held each other. Victims were remembered, including three Nutley residents who lost their lives that day.
Belleville schools also talked about the events of 11 years ago in classroom lessons especially designed for today. Joseph Fornarotto, chairman of the township’s veterans council, was joined by other veterans joined students at a 9/11 Memorial at the edge of Belleville School No. 7.
Among those lost were three Nutley residents, Lt. Robert Cirri, Frank LaLama, and Dorota Kopiscko. A plaque at the Belleville 9/11 Memorial commemorates the death of Antoinette Dugar, who died at the World Trade Center.
Belleville Board of Education Member Joseph Longo is a former Marine whose son completed a tour in Iraq, and Longo said 9/11 was a driving reason for his son enlisting. "My son Joseph was in the ninth grade that day, and ultimately, he joined the Marines largely out of the patriotism that emerged from that experience," Longo said.His daughter, Natalie, in the seventh grade, went to school counseling for a year after the attacks, Longo said.
"It had a profound impact on all of us," Longo said. "It is not about a guy like me, but about those who lost their lives, their families and those in uniform. God bless them all."
In Nutley, Mayor Alphonse Petracco said Tuesday night, “We unite today unite to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and will forever remember our the tragic loss that America suffered.”
Florence Pentol is president of a senior citizens club in Belleville. She said that 9/11 must be taught to younger people the same way that the attack on Pearl Harbor changed her as a young woman in 1944.
"I'm glad that children are being taught and reminded about 9/11, regardless of age," Pentol said. "Some schools turned off their televisions when 9/11 originally happened, and that was wrong. We were all gathered around the radio during Pearl Harbor, and we were well aware of what happened. These things must never be forgotten."
Nutley Commissioner Steven Rogers is a retired Navy officer, and said, “We are forever reminded of the events of that day, and the losses suffered here and in so many places. We also owe a debt of gratitude to all our service men and women who have fought and died to keep us safe since that day.”
Mayor Raymond Kimble commended Councilman Vincent Cozzarelli for putting together the Belleville ceremony, and both said they will do so every year.
Councilman Kevin Kennedy sent a Facebook invitation to residents, and said, "I will never let that day go by without a somber observance."
Residents displayed lighted candles on their front porches and electric candle in a window between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and flew flags in both towns, as they have in previous observances.
Churches observed the anniversary at special Sunday services in both towns.
Longo said 9/11 unites everyone in a unique way.
“Forget all the things that separate us,” Longo said. “This morning, We all woke up and took a breath as a free Americans. It was a good day.”