SOUTH RIVER – To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the South River Fire Department hosted a public ceremony to unveil a new Sept. 11 monument at fire department headquarters on Jackson Street and Raritan Avenue.
The monument, which is a piece of steel from 7 World Trade Center, was acquired last year and is meant to honor the 343 New York City firefighters who lost their lives.
According to Paul Migut, an active firefighter and chairman of South River’s Exempt Fireman’s Association, the artifact came into the association’s possession after a meeting with South River’s Historic and Preservation Society.
“This piece of steel was originally acquired by the South River Historic and Preservation Society. It was acquired after the town already built their Sept. 11 monument down at Daley’s Pond. So, in an executive board meeting of the Historic Society, they asked what do you think we should do with this piece of steel? So, I accepted it on behalf the fire department and the Exempt Association and we formed a committee and that’s how it got started,” Migut said.
The members of the committee include Exempt Association President Charles Willever, Department Chief Gerry Murphy, Robert Bodak, Eric Gartner, Steve Kuzmack, Charles Matts III,Thomas Swenticky, and Wayne Wagner.
According to Migut, the project was funded by donations from generous residents and businesses in South River.
“We solicited donations from residents and businesses and despite COVID with all the economic problems that occurred, everyone was more than generous to assist us in making this project a success. No borough funds were used in this, it was strictly all donations. We’re very appreciative of the towns people that chipped in,” Migut said.
Although 20 years have passed, Migut expressed the importance of honoring the people affected by this tragic event.
“Twenty years ago, 343 firefighters in New York City left their firehouse and never returned. It’s not only to honor them, but all the other first responders and in addition, the civilians that perished in this horrific act,” Migut said.
In remembrance of the attacks on the World Trade Center, a moment of silence was held at 8:46 a.m.
Migut, Mayor John M. Krenzel, Deacon Thomas F. Dominiecki and department Chaplain Nancy Magaw each addressed the life-altering events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. In addition, they shared heartfelt stories, offered encouragement, and emphasized the significance of the 20th anniversary, urging people to “Never Forget,” the same phrase inscribed on the steel monument.
As Dominiecki declared during his benediction, “We remember, and we mourn those who were innocently involved in these attacks … those brave and courageous first firefighters, police, emergency, the first responders and volunteers … they all responded to that tragedy unfolding that particular day. We remember and we mourn those who died subsequent to that attack… We shall never forget the tragic day, Sept. 11, 2001.”