Medford Township’s 20th-anniversary observance of 9/11 took place in front of a memorial at Freedom Park, where local officials, first responders and residents gathered to honor the victims of America’s worst terrorist attack and a survivor of that day told his story.
Among guests on this year’s Sept. 11, were Mayor Charles ”Chuck” Watson, Deputy Mayor Erik Rebstock and council members Lauren Kochan and Frank Czekay. The national anthem was sung by Marine Sgt. William Mead and Watson opened the service with remarks on behalf of council.
“As Americans, we place great value on the act of remembrance, as we reflect on this solemn anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.” Watson said, “We remember the innocent lives lost and the first responders who put their lives at risk without concern for their own personal safety. This included five members of the Medford police department that went to New York to assist.”
The service acknowledged the import of one of the most significant events in American history. Remarks also were made by Pastor Joseph Monahan of Medford Methodist Church; Rebstock; and Amelia Finley, who sang “This Land is Your Land.” Wreaths were placed on the park memorial by members of council and VFW Post 7677 of Burlington County.
The powerful story of survivor Dave Piereth, a Morgan Stanley employee on 9/11, was a firsthand account of the attack on 2 World Trade Center, more commonly known as the south tower, in New York City. He then reflected on a conversation that followed.
“On the sixth-month anniversary, I got an email from a police chief from a city in Ohio,” Piereth recounted. “He said after Sept. 11, he and a couple of guys went down to Ground Zero (site of the demolished trade center) to help with the recovery efforts. While they were there, they found my business card. He (the chief) said, ‘We used your name as motivation. We got tired, we thought of your name and we kept moving.’”
That Ohio police department still has Piereth’s business card.
Watson expressed gratitude to the first responders who continue to show resilience 20 years after 9/11.
“In the midst of the ongoing pandemic and natural disasters that have taken so many more lives and pushed our first responders and military yet again to their limits, I ask that you take time to thank them for their selfless service,” he said.
“Service was never more evident than on Sept. 11, 2001.”