Eighth grade students who were not yet born when terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 learned the true meaning of “Never Forget” Tuesday, Sept. 11 as they gathered to remember the 2,918 souls lost in the tragic attacks.
About 40 students of the Eugene A. Tighe Middle School joined city residents and first responders at the Margate 9-11 service held at Margate’s Firehouse No. 1, which bears two concrete insignias at the top of the refurbished fire station. One says “9-11,” the other says “343,” the number of New York City first responders who died trying to help others that infamous day.
One of the most moving expressions of compassion at the ceremony was when Margate Firefighter Anthony Tabasso struck the “Four Fives” on the bell at the front of Quint 23, a tradition that honors firefighters lost in the line of duty.
Although their textbooks and teachers instruct them on the history that was made that day, the feelings of the people cannot be adequately demonstrated in the words on a page.
“They are trying to teach us what happened that day and how the American people felt afterward,” eighth grader Sophie Goldstein said.
Brianna Fabi said the service taught her more than she learned in school.
“It’s so sad, and I hope that nothing like it will ever happen again,” she said.
But it was their classmate Michael Ricciardi who summed up what happened in America in the aftermath of the horrific tragedy.
“It shows us that after going through something so devastating, we can come together and show how strong our country is as long as we never forget,” he said. “I hope it never happens again.”
Margate schools Superintendent Thomas Baruffi recalled that he was in a meeting discussing school security the morning the planes hit the World Trade Center towers.
“At first we thought it was a terrible accident,” Baruffi said. “But when the second plane hit, then we knew what was going on. And it changed the world. These young men and women have grown up since kindergarten with the words ‘bomb scare,’ ‘intruder,’ and ‘lock down’ as part of their vocabulary. It’s sad and we would like to forget days like 9-11, but it’s so much more important that we remember, because there is so much more good in the world than there is evil.”
Held in front of a tree planted in remembrance, Longport’s service was just as meaningful as Margate’s. Graced by the presence of Wounded Warrior Week recipient, medically retired U. S. Navy Seal Joe Hahn, who was moved to join the military immediately after 9-11, the service honored first responders and members of the military who served in the aftermath of the attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, a field in Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
“I was only doing my duty as an American to help heal our nation,” Hahn said. “It was my privilege to serve our country and help to create a safer environment for these (first responders),” he said.
Members of the Longport Police and Fire departments, American Legion and its Auxiliary placed wreaths in front of the fir tree that was planed in Thomas B. Reed Memorial Park, while the brilliant summer sun hit its mark on the sundial in the park that commemorates major battles and war events. Sept. 11, 2001 was the last bronze marker to be added to the sundial.