A handful of Oradell residents paid their respects in front of on Tuesday, marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and the commercial jetliner that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
Mayor Joseph Murray read the introduction, while Father Thomas Iwanowski read the invocation and the benediction.
“Loving God, keep our memories strong, so we may always remember and imitate those caring men and women with this response to the horror of 9/11,” said Iwanowski. “Put love of country above love of self, and value mercy to others more than life.”
After a wreath was laid at the 9/11 memorial marking the name of Brent J. Woodall, the only Oradell resident to perish during the attacks at the World Trade Center, several residents shared their own experiences from that historic day.
Oradell resident Joan Zelman said she waited at home worried because her husband worked five blocks north of the World Trace Center and the twin towers were viewable from the office windows. He was amongst thousands of New York workers who were covered in dust after they fled from the falling towers of the World Trade Center.
"It was amazing how he got home," said Zelman. "He was walked along the Westside Highway [Henry Hudson Parkway] and there were boats all over New Jersey who took them across [the Hudson River]. Buses took them to Giants Stadium and he got a ride home from there."
Chief William Van Riper was working with a construction crew building a sound wall on Route 80 and witnessed the events.
"We watched the second plane hit and they shut the job down," said Van Riper. "Later that night I met with the fire department and we responded to Overpeck Park and we waited for our assignment. Later that night I went with bunch of construction workers to [New York City] help."
Councilman Eric Shuler, who was working for Verizon in Paramus and a member of the National Guard at the time, was deployed to Iraq due to the attacks.
As he reflected on several painful memories, Shuler remembered the Fialko family from River Edge, whose daughter survived cancer only to lose her life while working at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
"I got called up by Homeland Security and I was down by the Statute of Liberty and they had this big thing for ashes because there were no remains," said Shuler. "It was very painful seeing drawings from kids. Lots loved ones - moms, dads, uncles, grandparents, brothers, sisters. It's something I'll never forget."
Shuler, who expressed concern over how some Americans have started to forget the tragedies of 9/11, said he and his wife are planning a trip to New York City to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, and plan to visit The National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
“We have a lot to be grateful for. Three thousand people died,” Shuler added. “When you’re in the military, you expect to be shot at. You have body armor. They [9/11 victims] were unarmed. They just went to work.”