The horrific tragedy at the World Trade Center that took almost 3,000 lives occurred more than five years ago, but people in Guttenberg certainly have not forgotten.
Last week, the town decided to rename the corner of 69th Street and Hudson Street in honor of Port Authority Lt. Robert Cirri, a Guttenberg native who was tragically killed trying to help people in and out of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
The street-naming ceremony took place Friday on the corner near where Cirri lived most of his life. Cirri was born and raised on 69th Street, in a house where his parents, Dominic and Maria, still currently reside.
“It was a horrible tragedy, and there were a lot of heroes on that day,” said Mayor David Delle Donna at the ceremony. “But we had one of those heroes come from right here in Guttenberg. Lt. Cirri went back into the buildings to save other people. He went back in and out as many times as possible and he went back in a last time and didn’t come out. He was a true hero. We’re very proud of the fact that Lt. Cirri came from Guttenberg, that he grew up here and lived here.”
The ceremony took place with several town officials in attendance, as well as hundreds of youngsters from nearby Anna L. Klein School, which Cirri attended when he was a youngster.
Added Delle Donna, “He was the kind of person who made that ultimate sacrifice, the selfless act. I’m not sure how many others would have done what he did. We’re proud to be able to honor him in this way. I was also very pleased to have the children involved, because they should realize that they had a hero who grew up right across the street from the school, that he was once one of them.”
Family in attendance
Robert Cirri, Jr., the fallen officer’s son who currently works as a dispatcher for the West New York police, was moved by the ceremony.
“I was very happy that they did this,” Cirri Jr. said. “It was very nice of the town to remember him. He grew up in Guttenberg and went to school there. He was proud of Guttenberg. It meant a lot to all of us that they remembered him and honored him.”
The younger Cirri said that he thought it was important for the kids to realize what his father was all about.
“He was once a kid just like them at one time growing up,” Cirri Jr. said. “A lot of people in Guttenberg and a lot of the kids may not have known that there was a hometown hero who once lived right there. Now, they know.”
Bobby Cirri was so impressed with the street sign that he decided to drive by it the other day before heading into work.
“I just wanted to see it again,” Cirri, Jr. said. “I’m so very proud that they put it there. It’s a real honor to him and now, no one in Guttenberg will ever forget him.”
And if anyone does, they now have a constant reminder, sitting on a street corner where Lt. Robert Cirri spent many hours as a kid growing up in the town he loved so well.