To commemorate the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that changed the course of history and honor those lost that day, Chestnut Branch Park will host the Mantua and Gloucester County day of remembrance on Sept. 11.
The county will prove a stage for the event at the township park, which spans more than 109 acres. It holds pieces of the World Trade Center, a twisted I-beam from the Pentagon and a block from a wall, giving the site an atmosphere that contradicts the terror, fear and violence of 9/11.
“Everyone (in the committee) will try to be there,” said Mantua Mayor Pete Scirrotto, who was still a member of the township committee in 2001. “The (state) senators will be there. (Congressman) Donald Norcross will be there as well.”
According to Scirrotto, bells will be rung to mark each time a plane struck the twin towers and the Pentagon. The north tower was attacked at 8:45 a.m., the second at 9:03 a.m. and the Pentagon at 9:45 a.m. A bell will also be rung for those Americans who died on Flight 93, including its co-pilot, LeRoy Homer of Marlton.
Of the approximately 3,000 lives lost that day, 750 of them were from New Jersey, with nine residents from South Jersey. One of those was 39-year-old Mantua resident John Rodak, who worked at an investment firm inside the twin towers. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, who were little children the day their father died, according to Scirrotto.
“He was a favored son of Mantua,” the mayor said.
The memorial in Chestnut Branch Park also honors two other Gloucester County residents lost that day: Nick Brandemarti, 21, an equities analyst from West Deptford, and Perry Thompson, 36, a photographer from Monroe Township. Their families are expected to attend the 9/11 memorial.
Wreaths will be placed at the park on that day, followed by brief speeches. Events will begin at 8:30 a.m.