Twelve years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, South Orange residents, members of the Board of Trustees, Police, Fire and EMT's gathered at the South Orange firehouse to reflect and remember those who were lost.
Three members of the community Christopher Colasanti, Christopher Faughnan and Donald Robertson were killed in the World Trade Center attacks.
South Orange Fire Chief Jeff Markey was at home when the first tower was hit and watched live as the second plane hit.
“I knew that the police, fire and EMS were all over that site,” said Markey. “I knew that when that building came down, the meaning of that building collapsing and it just floored me. I turned to my wife and said 'I have to go.'”
The crowd was silent as members of the Fire Department rang three rounds of five chimes at 8:46 a.m., the time American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower, and again at 9:03 when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower.
It is difficult to remember that day, said Markey, but I think it's very important for the younger generations.
“They need to know what happened that morning and they need to know the sacrifices that we made and they need to know that we came out of this and we are better now,” he said.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimated that about 17,400 civilians were in the World Trade Center complex at the time of the attacks, he continued.
“These men and women from the emergency services, they did what they wanted to do, that was their call in life and they saved 15,000 people and that's what we need to take away from this and remember and respect,” he said.
Commuters looked on from the South Orange train station as Village President Alex Torpey took the podium.
“Almost every Sept. 11 since 2001 feels almost the same, standing out here on a nice September day, just as we see people up on the train tracks going to work just as they did 12 years ago, and remembering that that day started just like this day did for thousands and thousands of people but it didn't end that way,” he said.
“As tragic as events like this are and how much they show us that there is evil in the world and there are people willing to do terrible things for the wrong reasons, it also shows us that there are people that are willing to step up and the heroism that comes out of any of these tragedies is something important for us to remember every day.”