By Linda Moss The Record
LEONIA — Anthony Gardner, who lost his brother during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, wants to make sure that young New Jersey residents never forget 9/11. In fact, he wants them schooled on it.
Gardner, who is executive director of the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, was one of several participants at a 9/11 memorial service Sunday dedicated to the 154 Bergen County residents who perished at the Twin Towers.The ceremony, at the county’s 9/11 monument at Overpeck County Park, was conducted by Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan and the Board of Freeholders. Gardner is working with Bergen officials, and counties statewide, to have school districts teach a curriculum about 9/11 and the Garden State that he developed out of his work at the state museum and with various victims groups.
“We’re going to start going county-by-county and enlisting their support in implementing what is a very important program,” Gardner said. “We’re teaching young people who don’t have direct experience and memories of the day itself.”
During her remarks, Donovan mentioned that Bergen is working to partner with the state museum and Gardner, a 37-year-old Verona resident, to bring the New Jersey 9/11 curriculum to middle- and high-school students throughout the county.
“We have a responsibility to teach our children the lessons we’ve learned,” Donovan said.
There were about 80 people, including various Bergen officials, at the 12th anniversary ceremony, which also memorialized Bergen military personnel who died during the war on terrorism since the Twin Towers attacks. Gardner was one of two relatives of 9/11 victims that each read part of the list of Bergen’s lost, along with several county officials and police.
Gardner’s brother, Harvey J. Gardner III, 35, was a computer technician for General Telecom in the World Trade Center and lived in Lakewood. Faith Tieri, a 54-year-old Leonia resident who lost her brother, Sal E. Tieri Jr., 40, on 9/11, also read names, including her brother’s. Tieri, who lived in Shrewsbury and was a graduate of North Bergen High School, was a managing director at March & McLennan Cos.
Gardner has been an activist with 9/11 family groups for years, at one point serving as executive director of the September 11th Education Trust. That organization developed a 9/11 curriculum, first tested in Oradell in 2008, for use at schools around the nation. The North Jersey Media Group Foundation provided funding for that initiative. North Jersey Media Group publishes The Record and The Herald-News.
Now that curriculum is being taught at more than 2,200 schools, Gardner said.
The new curriculum specifically deals with the impact of 9/11 on New Jersey, and is based on an exhibit the state museum put together in 2011 to commemorate the terrorist attack’s 10-year anniversary. The display explored the impact on the people of the Garden State, which lost 677 residents that day.
Based on that exhibit, the museum next month is scheduled to debut a long-term display of artifacts, “Our Story: New Jersey’s 9/11 Collection,” Gardner said.
Right now, the New Jersey 9/11 curriculum, launched last year, is being taught in more than 70 schools, and Gardner aims to have it used in classrooms statewide.
The curriculum includes a teacher’s guide, a compilation of short videos and lesson plans, and features first-person testimonials from 9/11 family members and Ground Zero volunteers. It has four parts: life before 9/11; volunteerism and good citizenship; the collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, causes and lessons learned; and the recovery work of 9/11.
There were about 20 memorial attendees who were family members of 9/11 victims and of military families that had lost loved ones.
Tieri, principal of Robert Waters Elementary School in Union City, said that her brother didn’t work at the World Trade Center but was there for a meeting that day.
“I didn’t know he was there,” she said.
The attendees also included Paul Pyoung-Kyoum Kim of Leonia. He lost his 26-year-old son Andrew Kim, a 1992 graduate of Leonia High School, on 9/11. The younger Kim worked for Fred Alger Management, a mutual-fund firm, at the World Trade Center.
Bergen County Freeholder David Ganz read the names of the 19 Bergen service members who have died since 9/11, a list that included the name of his son, Scott Ganz, 30. The younger Ganz committed suicide after coming home from Afghanistan.
Gardner and Tieri have attended the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero in Manhattan faithfully, with Tieri, her husband Mark Scheur and their son Brandon, when he was 9, reading victims’ names at that ceremony over the years.
After she read her brother’s name Sunday, Tieri said, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you and wish you were here. You are forever in my heart. God bless your soul, and all the souls lost on that tragic day.”
Donovan has held a ceremony at the Leonia memorial since she was elected to office, scheduling the event so it doesn’t interfere with the 9/11 ceremony at Ground Zero.
“I promise as long as I’m county executive, I will do whatever is necessary to pay honor to those we lost and to remember we are all united,” Donovan, who was a Port Authority commissioner at the time of the attack, told the crowd.
This is the first year that Tieri and her family attended the county 9/11 ceremony.
“I think this is a beautiful remembrance for the Bergen County family members,” she said.