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‘We saw how courageous and strong our country can be’

Dozens gathered in Mantua's Chestnut Branch Park to remember the heroes of 9/11

Joseph Metz/The Sun
First responders salute in front of a plaque at the park’s 9/11 memorial. The three residents of Gloucester County who died that day were also honored.

Mantua Township hosted its annual Patriot Day Ceremony in Chestnut Branch Park on Monday to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11 and remember acts of courage.

The ceremony at the park’s 9/11 memorial began at 8:46 a.m., to coincide with the time that the first plane hijacked by terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center in New York on that Tuesday 22 years ago. Dozens came out on the cloudy and wet day to pay their respects at the park.

Situated within the 9/11 memorial is a twisted I-beam from the World Trade Center, a block of limestone from the damaged Pentagon building that sits beneath military flags, and an empty space of grass that pays tribute to the passengers of United 93 who sacrificed themselves by wresting the plane from terrorists and crashing it in a field near Shanksville, Pa.

“On Sept. 11, 2001, our nation saw the face of evil,” said Gloucester County Board of Commissioners Director Frank DiMarco. “Yet on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly American. Ordinary citizens rising to the occasion and responding with extraordinary acts of courage.

“From the office workers to the flight passengers, to finally the first responders, we saw how courageous and strong our country can be in the face of tragedy,” he added. “Out of this tragedy, we resolve to honor every man and woman lost. We seek their lasting memorial in a safer, and more hopeful world.”

The lives of three Gloucester County residents who died during 9/11 were also cited during the ceremony: John Rodak of Mantua, Perry Thompson of Monroe Township and Nicholas W. Brandemarti of West Deptford. The families of Rodak and Brandemarti were in attendance.

The ceremony was also attended by Mantua Mayor Robert Zimmerman and Deputy Mayor Pete Scirrotto; Harrison Township Mayor Louis Manzo and Deputy Mayor Julie DeLaurentis; county Commissioner Denise DiCarlo; and first responders from Mantua, Pitman and Woodbury

A bell used only during the 9/11 memorial rang four times, each one symbolizing the time a hijacked plane hit its target. Music was provided by the Clearview Regional High School Choir and Marching Band playing The Star Spangled Banner and Amazing Grace.

“We are afflicted in every way but not constrained,” Deacon Peter Traum noted in his closing prayer. “Perplexed, but not driven to despair. Persecuted, but not abandoned.

“Struck down, but not destroyed.”

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