By Megan Goldschmidt Community Newspapers
WARREN TWP. — First responders are a different breed of people, according to former Warren Fire Chief Timothy McGowan.
“While everyone else is running away, they’re running towards danger,” McGowan said. “There were 411 first responders on 9/11, this memorial is dedicated to them.”
On Memorial Day, Warren Township paid homage to 9/11 first responders by unveiling a memorial almost 4 years in the making.
The memorial, designed by artist Ralph Garafola, stands on the front lawn of the Warren Municipal building.
Deputy Mayor Gary DiNardo described it:
“The two cement towers weigh over 10,000 pounds each, the steel comes from the second tower and weighs over 2,000 pounds,” Dinardo said.
The memorial includes steel from the actual World Trade Center tower; it was obtained through a program Port Authority ran after 9/11 for municipalities to get steel. McGowan first got the wheel turning for the 9/11 memorial in Warren.
Along with McGowan, host of Monday’s ceremony, Committeewoman Carol Ann Garafola acknowledged each and every person who helped in the construction and fundraising for the project.
Recognized was a special student, Matthew Esposito of the Pingry School, who raised more than $3,000. He was asked to stand and lead the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
During the invocation, the Rev. Brent K. Haggerty of Stonecrest Community Church pointed out how the weather on Monday resembled that of the weather on September 11, 2001. He reminded the crowd how fitting Memorial Day was to remember those heroes and victims.
Police Chief Russell Leffert accompanied DiNardo on the trek to an airplane hanger [at] JFK Airport in New York to pick up the steel and bring it to Warren.
“I vowed to never forget the victims and heroes who perished that day,” Leffert said, “I knew that this steel and this memorial was the answer to our promise never to forget. This will be a place of somber reflection.”
To Rescue Squad President Paul Rapps, Memorial Day means paying respect to those who died in battle or were wounded. He urged the crowd to remember to help veterans returning and still living with their injuries, whether physical or mental.
McGowan said as a first responders [sic] himself, he felt he needed to honor the police, fire, and EMS who made the ultimate sacrifice that day. He concluded with asking the crowd to take one of the 411 flags placed around the memorial.