Surrounded by a newly dedicated Living Memorial of 50 ginkgo biloba trees, Hoboken residents of all different faiths and creeds came together at Pier A Park to remember those that were lost on 9/11.
The interfaith service, which lasted slightly over 30 minutes and brought many of those in attendance to tears, included prayers, patriotic and religious songs, as well as words of inspiration and healing. (For more coverage of other Sept. 11 anniversary events turn to page three and five.)
“We can not forget those that lost their lives [on 9/11] and those that have died every day since fighting for our freedom,” said Mayor Dave Roberts in a speech to the crowd. “The attacks have chilled us to the bone but we should never forget those who were lost. They were parents, singles, business owners, recent college students, friends and neighbors.”
“Today we mourn publicly,” added that mayor. “But every day, I’m sure we mourn privately. Here tonight, we come together to try to understand and reflect.”
Sen. Jon Corzine, who is a Hoboken resident, said after the ceremony that the second anniversary of 9/11 is a time to reflect and remember our community’s fallen citizens, and to support their families. “[The second anniversary] of Sept. 11 is a time give our support as a community to the families of those that were lost,” said Corzine.
The senator also commended Hoboken for dedicating the living memorial and said that the memories of 9/11 should serve as the strongest possible motivation for elected officials to work hard for the public good. “This memorial and those like it in New Jersey and across the county, should drive and motivate us in public life to go forward to protect our long-term future.”
Dedication of the ginkgos
During the ceremony, the city dedicated the Living Memorial Tree Grove, which was recently planted at the park’s entrance. The grove will be comprised of 50 ginkgo trees, and it was designed to complement the layout of the park’s existing trees.
The ginkgo was selected for its distinction as the oldest living tree species, dating back to the Permian period 270 million years ago. The tree has fan-shaped leaves that turn bright yellow in autumn, can soar 100 to 200 feet in height with a trunk diameter of three to four feet, and has a possible lifespan of 1,000 years.
The trees were donated by the U.S. Forestry Service. As Rev. Geoffrey Curtiss lead a prayer, volunteers from the Hoboken High School’s emergency response team sprinkled cups of water on each of the trees. “We’re here to dedicate a living garden on behalf of the members of our community that were lost,” said Curtiss. “We offer this place as a new scared place in Hoboken where we can share stories with our children and gather as a community.”
Remembrance at the synagogue
Also on Thursday at the United Synagogue of Hoboken, there was a memorial service marking the anniversary of Sept. 11. The brief service included chanting of psalms and Jewish memorial prayers in English and Hebrew, as well as the lighting of candles in memory of those who died on 9/11.
In a ceremony that was led by Rabbi Robert Scheinberg, the rabbi spoke of how vivid the memories of tragic images of that day still are, how much those that were lost are still missed, and how as a community it is important to show resolve while the healing process continues. “The exact details of that tragic day have been ingrained into my memory,” said the rabbi in what was simple but elegant speech, “To me it’s just as vivid as if it were yesterday; the smoke in the air and the lumps in our throats; the people coming off the ferries into Hoboken; the photos of missing people on flyers and the extra tight hugs that families gave their children that night.”
He continued to say that these painful and horrific memories still, even two years later, continue to stir in people’s minds and that is perfectly normal. But what is important now, he said, is that people don’t let the fear they are feeling overtake their resolve for enjoying their lives and cherishing the people in them. “The challenge of life is facing life with resolve,” he said, “and not being paralyzed by fear.”
He concluded his speech by quoting a traditional Jewish song. “The world is a very narrow bridge,” he said, “and the most important thing is, not to be afraid.”
The service ended with the reading of a memorial prayer, a prayer for healing, and a prayer for our country. Also the names of Hoboken’s lost were read out loud and a moment of silence followed.
At St. Mary Hospital
At St. Mary Hospital, there was a moment of silence at 8:46 AM, the exact time the first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center and a second moment of silence at 9:03 when the second plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
After the memorial service at the hospital’s chapel, a book of flyers of the missing that were collected in the days following 9/11 was available in the chapel for public to view, pray about and reflect on.