Howell pauses to remember lives lost on Sept. 11


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HOWELL – Residents and officials in Howell will never forget.

On Sept. 11, which marked the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Howell officials, police officers, firefighters and emergency services personnel gathered at the Sept. 11 memorial on Preventorium Road to honor all the lives lost and the lives that were affected by the events of that day.

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Howell residents John J. Lennon Jr., Colin Richard McArthur, John Frederick Rhodes,
Joseph Sacerdote and Alan L. Wisniewski were killed that day.

“Today is a very hard day to remember for all of us,” Mayor Theresa Berger said. “None of us were prepared for what happened that morning.”

The mayor told those assembled how she was on the phone with her husband, who was in a building near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, when the first tower was struck by a plane that had been hijacked. She said her husband believed that what he witnessed must have been an accident.

With tears in her eyes and pain in her voice, Berger spoke about a family friend who lost his life on Sept. 11.

“It is a very sad day for me. My family lost a very important member of our circle, a 23-year-old firefighter. He was one of the last members of the forces to be buried. (Searchers) never found his body, but they found a vial of blood he had donated and a couple years after (Sept. 11, 2001) we buried (him) and to us that was our closure,” Berger said.

The mayor called the Howell residents who lost their lives the “heroes from our community” and said “that is what Howell is about. Howell is about the community we are and the people we are.”

Berger said she wanted to be at the ceremony to honor every man and woman who was “hurt for no reason.”

“There are many other stories and there are many people who suffered similar and more horrific events, but in our community this memorial stands for the love and the friendship that we really all have as a community,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Rob Nicastro said, “We remember our first responders who in a moment of hatred found heroism. We remember the men and women who serve in our armed services and who from a moment of tragedy brought victory. We remember the families who have suffered and have found seemingly impossible healing. We remember each and every year, each and every life, so that our present and future generations may never forget.”

Councilwoman Evelyn O’Donnell said, “Let this country never forget because if we did, those mistakes could be repeated, and in this let Howell never forget because in this we become stronger. There are no words to express the pain that has gone through this country as a result of this act.”

She said it took her son, who was 18 at the time, to explain to her why he was going to Iraq to find some clarity following the events of Sept. 11.

“He felt everybody owed the country something, what (the terrorists) took from us can never be replaced, but what I know is that I have never been prouder of my country than after that because I realized that as Americans we are much more than the skin and the blood we possess. We possess a soul they could not take from us and can never take from us,” O’Donnell said.

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