SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Deputy Mayor Joseph Camarota thanked the citizens of South Brunswick for “never letting us down,” as hundreds attended the township’s memorial ceremony for the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“The turnout here is impressive, it’s truly remarkable.” he said on Sept. 11 in front of the township’s municipal building.
The importance of the turnout was in tribute to the South Brunswick residents who were lost that fateful day, among almost 3,000 people who were killed in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; the thousands of first responders who died of Sept. 11-illnesses and the service members who lost their lives to death or suicide in the two decades since; and those who continue to suffer from grief, loss or PTSD.
On Sept. 11, 2001, three South Brunswick residents left the township to work in New York City. They, along with a South Brunswick High School graduate who was living in New York at the time, never returned home because of the terrorist attacks.
Mukul Agarwala, 37, a graduate of South Brunswick High School in 1980, was living in New York at the time of the attacks. A native of Kendall Park, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and graduated from the Wharton School with his MBA in 1990. He was working for an internet company in San Diego when he decided to come back east to be with his ailing parents.
Sept. 11, 2001, was his second day on the job as a software research analyst in Lower Manhattan.
Toyena C. Skinner, 27, of Kingston, worked for Wachovia Corp. in the World Trade Center. She left behind her son, mother, two sisters and one brother.
She was a new mother, and Sept. 14 would have been her last day at work before she was set to resign to be a full-time mom. Family members say her son is doing very well.
Jeffrey Robinson, 38, of Monmouth Junction, was a systems analyst for Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. in the World Trade Center. His office was originally in Princeton, just 10 minutes from his home, but in February 2001 they transferred to New York.
The night before Sept. 11, he had stayed up until 1 a.m. listening to a Billie Holiday anthology. He overslept, skipped his morning jog and raced to work.
Kenneth Charles Ledee, 38, of Monmouth Junction, was an email coordinator for Marsh & McLennan. He left behind his wife and 4-year-old daughter.
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman said she was in a room with a big window overlooking the river and saw the attack – but she couldn’t process what was actually happening.
She said it all came back to her as she visited the World Trade Center site on Sept. 10.
“This country is the greatest country on earth, as long as we are united in recognizing we are all in this together,” she said.
To the first responders, she said, “All of you continue to keep us safe, to heed that call no matter what the tragedy may be. … You protect us and give us the opportunity to live in freedom and prosperity.”
She also thanked clergy leaders “for reminding us we all belong to one God.”
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a South Brunswick resident, said we will never forget those who gave their lives, those who woke up that day not knowing what was going to happen, the first responders, the families who live everyday remembering their loved ones, the men and women who breathed in toxic dust at Ground Zero, and those who deal with mental health issues still.
“In the days after, neighbors were helping neighbors, friends were helping friends … Americans were helping Americans,” Zwicker said. “We are stronger when we are united, and we will never be divided.”
The ceremony included many prayers, and concluded with a wreath laying at the township’s memorial site.
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com.