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Patriot Day ceremony remembers and reflects on 9/11

Event is celebrated at Chestnut Branch Park's Place of Reflection

Courtesy of Mantua Township.
A flagpole that memorializes two area residents who died on 9/11 is part of Chestnut Branch Park’s Place of Reflection, site of the Patriot Day ceremony.

Mantua will once again host a Patriot Day ceremony on the second Monday of September at 8:30 a.m. to remember those who died on 9/11.

The ceremony will take place at Chestnut Branch Park’s Place of Reflection, a memorial to the nearly 3,000 people who perished in the attacks 22 years ago at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field.

“Each year, we gather to honor the almost 3,000 lives lost during the horrific attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Mayor Robert Zimmerman. “The program is open to the public and everyone is encouraged to join us as we pay our respects.

“This is our way to honor and pay tribute to all those who lost their lives, including our brave first responders and all the victims’ families.”

Within the memorial area is a broken I-beam from the Twin Towers that sits besides a bell in the park, rung only on 9/11 four times to mark each moment that a terrorist-driven plane struck the U.S. that morning.

Also in the park is a plaque that pays tribute to the life of a Mantua resident who perished on that day, John Rodak, a 39-year-old who worked at the World Trade Center.

“For us here in Mantua, it’s an opportunity … to reflect personally on the loss of John Rodak from our community, who lost his life while working inside the twin towers on 9/11,” Zimmerman noted. “Joyce (John’s widow) and (his) daughters (Devon and Chelsea) are in attendance and participate every year.

“John is our hometown patriot, and the Rodaks will forever be a part of our Mantua family.” 

The lives of two other 9/11 victims from Gloucester County are also honored in the park and will be celebrated on the anniversary: Nick Brandemarti, 21, of West Deptford, an equities analyst in the towers; and 36-year-old Perry Thompson, a photographer from Monroe Township.

The Patriot Day ceremony is expected to last an hour and will go on regardless of rain. Dozens of people are expected to attend.

“Each year we gather to pay tribute, and there’s no better location than our beautiful Chestnut Branch Park,” Zimmerman observed. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rodaks and all those who feel the ill effects this time of year.

“We will never forget.”

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