This is my town's new memorial dedicated to residents lost on 9-11-01.
"Manalapan memorial honors 9/11 victims
Mayor says memory
of those killed in terror
attack will live forever
By dave benjamin
DAVE BENJAMIN Replicas of the World Trade Center’s twin towers flank the names of the Manalapan residents who died at the scene of the terrorist attack in New York City.
A 9/11 memorial will forever stand in the Manalapan municipal arboretum as a remembrance to all those who perished that day.
The memorial, a replica of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, includes a wall engraved with the names of Manalapan residents who were killed in a terrorist attack on the United States on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
The memorial that stands in front of the municipal building, Route 522, features the World Trade Center’s twin towers constructed of blue granite. The towers stand 7 feet tall.
A wall of polished black granite is engraved with the names of residents who were killed at the World Trade Center: Daniel T. Afflitto, Louis F. Aversano Jr., Steven H. Berger, Dominick E. Calia, James V. DeBlase, Salvatore A. Fiumefreddo, Salvatore Gitto, Christopher S. Gray, Thomas McCann and Joseph B. Plumitallo.
During the dedication ceremony of Manalapan’s 9/11 memorial, members of the Monmouth County Police Pipe and Drum Corps led the processional and recessional.
A pentagon-shaped fountain sits next to the monument and a granite boulder recalling United Airlines Flight 93 sits at the northern entrance of the memorial. A plaque attached to the boulder honors Patrick Joseph Driscoll, a longtime resident of Manalapan who was a passenger on Flight 93, which was hijacked out of Newark Liberty International Airport.
Government officials have said they believe passengers on the plane fought back against the hijackers that morning, causing the plan to be crashed in Pennsylvania. It is believed the target of Flight 93 was the White House in Washington, D.C.
During Saturday morning’s dedication ceremonies under sunny skies, the Rev. John P. Bambrick of St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church said, "Inscribed in this memorial are the names of 11 of our finest citizens. They died as they lived, as free and independent men. Some worked in commerce, finance, government and civil service. Each of them lived the American experience."
He said the memorial is the community’s testament to its love for the victims and to its firm belief in liberty.
Speaking on behalf of families who lost loved ones on 9/11, Angela Gitto thanks Manalapan residents for the support they have shown the past two years.
Personal items belonging to the men are encased in the footings of the memorial.
The speakers included George McCann, president of the Schoor DePalma engineering firm, Manalapan, who said, "Everyone labored on this project throughout the day yesterday and the finishing touches are still being done this morning. The question is, are we done? No, not yet."
McCann, who lost his brother in the terrorist attack and whose firm managed the project, said that beginning the week of Sept. 8, pavers and landscaping will be installed at the site, which will be illuminated.
"The (memorial) committee has been approached by families of former residents of this town that were lost on 9/11 so that they might be recognized, like Jason Cayne," he said. "They will also be recognized in an additional acknowledgment for former residents in the memorial.
Lt. John Gilburn of the Port Authority Police Department speaks at the dedication of Manalapan’s 9/11 memorial.
"Two years ago on 9/11, so much was taken from all of us on that day," said McCann, whose brother Thomas was a New York City firefighter. "Today there is some irony that in one given day so much was done to build and complete this memorial. We hope that this memorial stands for years to come as a tribute and a remembrance of all who were lost and that in some small way it helps to heal all of our broken hearts."
Manalapan Police Department Detective Samuel Britton, president of the local PBA No. 229, which spearheaded the fund-raising drive, said the memorial will serve as a remembrance to those who died on that horrific day.
"It is hoped that everyone will embrace this memorial as a sacred place, so that families and friends of those residents that died can find some peace and comfort here," he said.
Britton noted that a piece of a steel girder that supported Tower Two was placed in the footing of the memorial to support it, as it once did the World Trade Center.
A block of granite honors the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who fought back against hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, including longtime Manalapan resident Joe Driscoll.
"The design of this memorial represents the losses that occurred in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.," Britton said.
After a moment of silence, Angela Gitto, who lost her husband in the attack, addressed the audience on behalf of the families and thanked residents for their unconditional support and concern for the 9/11 families.
"Through your love and dedication, our township will have a permanent memorial that will honor all those who were lost on Sept. 11, especially our loved ones," she said.
Speaking on behalf of the Township Committee, Mayor Drew Shapiro, said, "They may be gone. They may be lost, but for us their memory will live on forever."
Nicole Palmer (l-r), Katie Geant and Jessica Taubman, three of the four students who designed Manalapan’s 9/11 memorial, stand with teacher Vincent Farinella at Saturday’s dedication.
(Mr. Farinella was my shop teacher, many years ago!)
He thanked everyone who gave their time, effort and donations to make the memorial possible.
Lt. John Gilburn of the Port Authority Police Department then presented each family with a flag which had flown over the World Trade Center. Each flag was enclosed in a flag display case donated by the Freeman Funeral Home, Freehold and Manalapan.
During the ceremony, members of the Monmouth County Police Pipe and Drum Corps — Brian Gillespie, John Feehan, John McGrady, John Kolodziej and Paul Seetoo — led the processional and recessional of family members.
Officials noted that more than $107,000 was raised to build the memorial and companies that donated their services to help get the job done were thanked for their efforts.
Although many students, particularly those in the art classes of Kim Honecker at Manalapan High School and Vincent Farinella’s tech classes at the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School, participated in the design phase for the memorial, it all came down to the design by four students at MEMS.
"The kids at school did it," said Farinella. "They probably made 60 models between the four classes. The committee came over, looked at it and decided which ones they wanted."
A plaque inscribed with the names of MEMS graduates Brian Fintz, Nicole Palmer, Katie Geant and Jessica Taubman, and Farinella, their teacher, was placed on the memorial.
"I am extremely pleased," Britton said in conclusion. "How could you not be? The memorial turned out better than I had imagined."