Memories of 37 live on after 9/11

Steph Solis Asbury Park Press

The bell rang 37 times.

Once for James Murphy, Alfred Braca and Lorraine Antigua. For Kenneth Tietjen, Brendan and Roseanne Lang, Michael Egan.

Each ring lingered over the air as dozens of people stood in silence Friday morning at the World Trade Center Memorial Gardens in Middletown, remembering the 37 township men and women who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.

Tiny American flags fluttered in the wind, beneath a series of wreaths town officials and veterans put up minutes earlier. The words “Middletown remembers” stared back at them from a ribbon on one wreath.

“It’s our job to make sure they are remembered,” said Cindy Metz, one of Tietjen’s younger sisters, from his memorial headstone.  Tietjen, a Port Authority officer, was killed when the first tower collapsed. He went back in to rescue victims trapped inside. He was 31.

An American flag, which was flown over the World Trade Center on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, went up at the gardens. Police, fire and emergency medical services officials, as well as Veterans of the Foreign Wars Post 2179, American Legion Post 338 and American Legion Post 515, brought the wreaths. They stood in the moment of silence and waited under storm clouds as one veteran struck the bell on a table.

 

Middletown Mayor Stephanie Murray and members of the township committee lead a silent walk through the WTC Memorial Gardens in Middletown, NJ during a silent ceremony to honor the 37 Middletown residents who lost their lives on 9/11 Friday September 11, 2015.  Tanya Breen/staff photographer

Then they walked through the path into the gardens, past 37 headstones. Each of their portraits were engraved on the headstones. Metz looked down at Tietjen’s headstone, surrounded by bouquets of flowers as Tietjen beamed at her.

“I come here several times a year,” said Metz, 39, of Bedford. “I bring my kids…It’s a lovely tribute.”

Loved ones of Antigua gathered around her stone after the ceremony. A bouquet of pink roses lay on top.

Antigua worked on the 109th floor of the North Tower for Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond brokerage firm.

Her children, 27-year-old Aaron and 24-year-old Caitlin, and their father, Al, walked to the side with a red balloon. Caitlin let it go and watched as it rose up to the stormy clouds.

They wrote a message and sent it up with the balloon, Caitlin said: “That we miss her and love her.”

Caitlin was 10 years old when her mother died in the attacks; Aaron was 13. Since then, she, her brother and their dad have sent balloons up to Antigua on her birthday, on Mother’s Day, on the anniversary of the attacks.

“Her birthday is on the 27th,” Aaron said. “We come here sometimes.”

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