A 9/11 Ground Zero speaker, as a guest speaker at Hunterdon County’s 20th anniversary 9/11 commemoration ceremony, told those in attendance: “The 9/11 attacks were meant to break our spirits. Instead, we came out stronger and more united. “
Readington Township Dr.Jean Kanokogi, a federal officer who responded to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, joined Hunterdon County Sheriff Fred Brown, District Attorney Renee Robeson and many first responders and law enforcement officers. Order of the County of Hunterdon on the occasion of the County’s 20th anniversary. ceremony, on the steps of the historic Flemington Courthouse.
Brown, the sponsor of the annual ceremony noted that 16 residents of Hunterdon County perished at the World Trade Center site on September 11, along with nearly 400 first responders and thousands more, saying, “I think we have an obligation to honor the memory of their lives each year.
The columns of the historic courthouse were adorned with banners bearing the names of each of the Hunterdon County residents killed in the attacks.
Brown said, “We must also remember that on September 11, 2001, this nation was attacked, the most heinous assault on our soil since Pearl Harbor. It was a terrorist attack that killed thousands of people, by enemies of our nation, our values, our freedoms and our way of life. It is something that must also be engraved in our memory.
“Despite the tragedy of that day, there were also heroes – those who ran into danger, saved lives and gave their lives to save others. And our first responders here in Hunterdon County who answered the call on September 11 are a valued part of that group. They are special and selfless people who most deserve our thanks and recognition. “
Brown and Robeson presented each of the 9/11 first responders with a 20th anniversary pin in recognition of their service.
Kanokogi told those gathered: “On September 11, we saw ordinary people choose duty in the face of death; responders continued to help people even as buildings collapsed around them. We have seen ordinary people choose self-sacrifice for the sake of strangers, as the passengers on the plane over Pennsylvania refused to let the hijackers succeed.
Kanokogi added: “Let us never forget that we have been attacked. We must remain vigilant but heal. With an open heart and mind, everyone, from all walks of life, can and should enjoy the freedoms in the crucible of a nation. “
Sheriff Brown, at the start of the ceremony, asked the assembled people for a minute’s silence in memory of the 13 U.S. service personnel killed at Kabul airport on August 26 and the six people who were lost in the county of Hunterdon during the recent storm of Hurricane Ida.
Elected officials in attendance included Senator Mike Doherty, Assembly Members Erik Peterson and Roy Freiman, and John DiMaio, Council of Commissioners Director Susan J. Soloway, Deputy Director John E. Lanza and Commissioners Shaun C. Van Doren and Zach T. Rich. Many county veterans were in attendance and Dan Torrone served as the emcee.
During the proceedings, the Hunterdon Harmonizers performed the national anthem and the Clinton Church of the Nazarene Worship Band performed “Amazing Grace”. Reverend Dave Errickson of Old Rocks Church in Lambertville and Chaplain Larry Coyne, Chaplain of the Clinton Fire Department and the County Fire Chiefs Association, offered the invocation and blessing respectively.
The New Jersey State Police Honor Guard performed the color presentation and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Bureau conducted an overflight for the ceremony, where the mounted patrol state police were also represented.