NJ Assemblywoman Claire Swift addresses the crowd gathered for Margate’s annual 911 Remembrance Ceremony.


MARGATE – The Fire Department held its annual 911 Remembrance Ceremony Monday morning asking those gathered to “Never Forget” those who perished in the horrific events that changed America forever.

According to Fire Chief Dan Adams, who traveled with fellow firefighters to New York City to do what they could to save lives only to find there were very few left to save, said the country is “stronger and more powerful than ever.”

Nearly 100 people, including children in pre-school and eighth grade, attended the solemn ceremony, which not only remembered those who perished, but also those who served as first responders.

“Were it ever to happen again, we’re here, we’re prepared and we’re ready to go,” Adams said.

The crowd gathered heard prayers offered by Rabbi Gordon Geller, Fr. Chris Bakey and Rev. Vicky Ney, who watched from the NJ side of the Hudson River as the Twin Towers fell. Renditions of the national anthem and “God Bless America” were offered by Holy Trinity Chior Director Teddi Fusco. Members of the Police Department read the events of that fateful day in chronological order before hearing the ringing of the “Four Fives”offered by Firefighter Joe DiBuonaventura. Bagpiper Rick Lindsay of the Atlantic County Sandpipers offered “Amazing Grace.”

Adams remembered the 2,977 innocents who died in the attacks, the 343 firefighters who rushed in to save their fellowman without knowing if they would make it out alive, and those first responders who continue to die years later from the effects of the toxic debris that emanated from the falling Twin Towers. More than 331 people have been named victims of concrete dust and ash 22 years after the towers fell.

The families of the victims and the future of the country were in the hearts of those present.

Mayor Michael Collins, who spoke in his first 911 ceremony, said Margate is lucky to have people who share their lives in service to protect residents and visitors.

“Although our nation seems divided, we come together in ceremonies like this to give you the opportunity to learn how you will live your lives,” he told the students, who were not yet alive when the catastrophe was brought to bear. “Remember that those who were living their normal daily routines never made it back home again.”

Assemblywoman Claire Swift remembered three residents of Atlantic County who perished in the attacks: Patricia A. Cody of Brigantine, John Patrick O’Neill of Linwood and Victor J. Saracini of Atlantic City.

She said she watched “60 Minutes” Sunday night with her children. They struggled to understand, she said, and asked a lot of questions about the attacks.

“We were scared,” she told her children. “But for days afterward we were comforted to know the members of the Margate City Fire Department and others went up to New York to represent us. Today, we are proud, and they continue to give us comfort.”

Diana Ackerman of Green Bank, who works in Margate, said she was with a client in divorce court when the towers fell.

“It was horrible, it was sad, and we were scared,” she said. “All we wanted to do was get home to our loved ones to make sure they were safe.”

Commissioner Maury Blumberg also asked those present to never forget the images of 911 burned into their brains, but to have compassion for others, even our enemies.

“There is no place in our world for hate and prejudice,” Blumberg said. “The tenent of our country is freedom for all. Pray for the families impacted, pray for our first responders and for those who gave their lives. Remember and give thanks because love is stronger than hate. Pray for peace and remember to never forget.”

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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.