Downbeach communities turned out to honor those who perished in the attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001. Longport American Legion Post 469 held a service at Thomas B. Reed Park. Margate’s service was held at Firehouse No. 1. Ventnor held a joint service with Atlantic City on the Boardwalk at the city boundary.
Longport Volunteer Fire Chief Levon “Lefty” Clayton asked those gathered to not only remember those who died on 9-11, but also those who have suffered debilitating disease and have died since 9-11 of health-related issues. He asked the community to pray for the families they left behind.
“Remember the survivors who are suffering from the anguish of that day,” he said.
Firefighters who rushed to assist following the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, shared what they remember of their time in New York City.
Builder Jim Leeds, who went to Ground Zero in the days following the attack, recalled the “eerie quiet” in the aftermath of the attacks that brought down the two towers.
Longport Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Funk said his most vivid memory was “the sheer number of volunteers providing support for those of us who went in to help with what we thought was going to be search and rescue mission.”
Margate Fire Chief Dan Adams who traveled to New York a few days after the attack called the experience “surreal.”
“To see such total devastation and destruction was surreal,” he said.
Adams said he took photos of the site but could not look at them for more than a year.
“I had nightmares for days afterward,” he said.
Margate Firefighter Chris Hornig took a private boat from Liberty State Park to Lower Manhattan.
“I would call it mild chaos. It was difficult going from rescue to victim retrieval,” he said.
He helped to identify victims and body parts.
“It was a pretty horrific scene,” he said.
Firefighter Chris Bradley remembers walking though quiet, dusty streets to get to where the towers once stood.
“The dust was like walking through snow six to eight inches deep. The buildings were still burning, and all the shop windows were blown out. There was pulverized concrete, drywall and papers strewn everywhere,” he said. “The reason we come here every year is to never forget.”
Commissioner Maury Blumberg thanked first responders who serve and protect every day of their lives.
“Let us not forget there is no place in our world for hate and prejudice,” he said.
He remembered first responding heroes who gave their lives that day and the families they left behind.
“Let us not forget that love is much stronger than hate…and pray for peace and goodwill on Earth.”