Twenty years later, We will never forget: North Brunswick residents ‘live amongst heroes’


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NORTH BRUNSWICK – At 8:46 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, the North Tower, 1 World Trade Center in New York, was struck by American Airlines Flight 11, which was traveling from Boston to Los Angeles.

At 9:03 a.m., the South Tower, 2 World Trade Center, was struck by United Airlines Flight 175, which was traveling from Boston to Los Angeles.

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At 9:37 a.m., the western side of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., was hit by American Airlines Flight 77, which was traveling from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles.

At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed.

At 10:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It was traveling from Newark to San Francisco.

At 10:28 a.m., the North Tower collapsed.

At 10:50 a.m., five stories of part of the Pentagon collapse.

At 5:20 p.m., 7 World Trade Center collapses.

“We pause and reflect on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, which demonstrated the worst of humanity, as well as the best of humanity. We will never forget those acts of violence,” said Lou Ann Benson, director of the North Brunswick Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services, member of the North Brunswick Sept. 11 Committee, and who lost a relative on that fateful day when terrorists hijacked the airplanes to cause the most deadly attack on U.S. soil in history.

“It’s a day filled with heavy losses. No words would ever describe the sights captured in photos of how our world was changed forever. And then pieces of bravery rose,” she said.

Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack said North Brunswick, about 37 miles from New York, will “ensure the lives lost and valor displayed are remembered.”

Six township residents lost their lives that day 20 years ago.

North Brunswick police officers Vern Carmen, Chris Falletta, Gregory Gyumolcs, Jeff Smith, Wayne DeGaetano, Joseph Falcone, Carmine Soldano, Joseph Grasso and Mike Misurell; North Brunswick volunteer firefighters James Elmini, Gary Ewald, Eddie Glover, Chris Patakis, George Paynko Sr., George Paynko Jr., Brett Demarco, Scott Henry, Tom Lettieri, Matt Levine, Terrance Farrell, Dave Locha, Billy Lovas, Greg Masters, Steve Miller and Joe Whalen; and North Brunswick First Aid & Rescue Squad members Linda Warhaftig, Teresa Wegrzyn and Jodi Weyd all gave of their services in the aftermath of the terror attacks.


Womack said that from Dec. 7, 1941, until the time Japan surrendered to end World War II, 1,347 days, or 3 years, 8 months and 8 days, elapsed. However, the War on Terror brought on by the attacks of 2001 lasted 7,293 days, or 19 years, 11 months and 19 days, until it ended on Aug. 30.

He said that has caused Americans to revisit their feelings of the past 20 years.

He said 7,052 U.S. service members have died over the past 20 years, those who have served in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. Thousands were wounded. And hundreds of thousands of civilian lives have been lost in that time.

“These sacrifices have not been in vain,” Womack said, noting there has not been another large-scale attack in that time, and U.S. intelligence has built strong protective networks.

Womack then mentioned the 13 U.S. Marines who were killed by a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26, during the evacuation of the country. He said those young men, most in their early 20s, ranged in age from 1 to 11 when Sept. 11, 2001, occurred.

“I cannot find the right words to express the deep horror,” he said, saying that over the past two decades, children are sacrificing and dying from “the poison manifested on that day” in 2001.

Womack also noted the hundred first responders who have died from COVID-19 who had respiratory issues or cancer from Sept. 11, which made them vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

However, Womack said, “Who can forget the unity?” that occurred on Sept. 12 and beyond.

“Americans came together to support one another,” he said.

He said the “very real and very painful losses” were real, and still are real.

Yet he said everyone is somehow still filled with optimism and pride – especially of the nation’s heroes.

“Their actions are a shining thread in the fabric of the American story,” he said. “The spirit of what is best in us … was strengthened and renewed.”

He said the hometown heroes – police, fire and EMS – take every single emergency call without delay or absence.

“We do live amongst heroes,” he said.

Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17) said that generations from now, Americans will continue to build towers that reach the heavens, will serve in embassies overseas, and will wear the uniform.

“Today, while some have tried to break us, America stands tall and America stands proud,” he said, saying Americans will never stand down and will always own the finish line.

“Never let the spirit of unity be damaged,” he said.

Sen. Bob Smith (R-17) said there are various views about the effects of Sept. 11 and its aftermath, including on the economy, public health, culture and religion.

He said as we analyze the past two decades, and the future, it is time for refocus and redirection, and a time to salute those who showed willingness for acts of charity.

The ceremony included various patriotic musical selections, as well as the laying of three wreaths at the base of the memorial on Hermann Road. A special wreath was placed by the family of the late Police Director Kenneth McCormick who died last year, who was a dedicated member of the North Brunswick Sept. 11 Committee.

“We remember his service to that committee and to our community, but also to each other. Ken was that special person. He was always there and accepted you for who you were,” Benson said.

Contact Jennifer Amato at

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