Statewide ‘Empty Sky’ 9/11 memorial makes debut in Jersey City

STATEWIDE – Hundreds of Garden State residents gathered Saturday in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park for the opening of Empty Sky, New Jersey’s state memorial to those lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Standing before the memorial’s 10-foot tall twin columns, Gov. Christopher Christie remembered those lost that day and the impact that loss has had on those left behind.
“There have been 10 Little League season that young children did not have their fathers there to coach them on that field or cheer from the stands,” said Christie. “There are women today who did not have their fathers there with them to hand them their bouquet of flowers…or to walk them down the aisle on the day of their wedding.”
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and several officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey joined the governor for the memorial’s debut.
Following a somber one-hour ceremony, gatherers crammed between the memorial’s two steel-lined concrete slabs that include the names of all 746 New Jersey residents killed that day. In total, 2,977 people died that day from the attacks.
Empty Sky, a bold and imposing design meant to evoke the feel of the Twin Towers that were lost on 9/11, opened one day before the nation prepared to mark the 10-year anniversary of the attacks. Controversy surrounding the monument’s design, location, and cost threatened to delay its debut. Some critics of the monument, including the park activist organization Friends of Liberty State Park, argued the monument’s design interfered with sweeping views of Manhattan from the park. Other critics questioned the monument’s $12 million price tag in the midst of a recession. About $5 million came from state resources with the rest coming from the Port Authority and private donations. (The Port Authority had been headquartered in the World Trade Center and the transit agency lost 84 of its employees on 9/11.)
But this controversy seemed irrelevant to the hundreds who attended Empty Sky’s opening, a few of whom wore homemade buttons that included photos of loved ones who died. Other relatives held photos. – E. Assata Wright

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