Ridgewood may have lost its twelve ten years ago Sunday, but their spirits have endured. And they were above, watching down on the place they've called home.
That was the message Sunday night at Memorial Park at Van Neste Square for the tenth anniversary of the day that will live in infamy. Hundreds crowded the square, some weeping as "Amazing Grace" bellowed through a quickly darkening sky. It was a day of remembrance, of loss, but also of hope.
"On September 11, 2001, the lives of all Americans changed forever," said Mayor Keith Killion, who delivered the ceremony's speech. Ridgewood was no exception, he said. Twelve were lost; the village was there to honor their memories, paying respects to the wives, the husbands, the parents, the children.
"Ten years ago as a village, we mourned together in Van Neste Square to offer each other solace, friendship and support," Killion said. "Ten years later, we are gathered here together with these twelve residents. We miss their smiles and their friendship. We will always remember the lessons we have learned from September 11th, 2001. These twelve Ridgewood residents, as well as the thousands of others of innocent people who lost their lives that day, did not die in vain. We know that their spirit, just as the American spirit, endure. And they will continue to guide all of us in the future."
Flowers and flags draped over the memorial rock, where the names of the twelve are inscribed. Buried beneath is a casket of mementos of those who didn't return ten years ago.
Jane Riley found it painful to return in the new decade, at a ceremony so much like the original. Riley was the mayor of Ridgewood in 2001.
"It's painful to relive some of the most painful days this community has ever endured," she said. "At the same time, it was our darkest hour but also our finest hour. This community really rallied together."
The sentiments were shared by former councilman Pat Mancuso. "That day is a day we can never forget," Mancuso said. "Talk about a community that stood together and brought out the best in us. It was a real moment Ridgewood could be proud of–it's something that really defines Ridgewood."
"It was a wonderful event," said Councilman Paul Aronsohn. "One that captured Ridgewood's strong sense of community and honored the lives and memories of twelve special people. I am particularly glad that Ridgewood's religious leaders were so centrally involved. They are our community's spiritual leaders, and as such, their participation was particularly important."
The interfaith community read the names of those who had fallen, in the form of poetry, titled Ridgewood Remembers.
In the rising of the sun and at its setting, we remember Richard Blood.
In the blowing of the wind and the sweet chill of winter, we remember Michael Carroll.
In the opening of buds and the rebirth of spring, we remember Daniel McGinley.
In the blueness of the sky and the warmth of summer, we remember James Munhall.
In the rustling of leaves and the beauty of autumn, we remember Charlie Murphy.
In the changing of the seasons and the shifting of the tides, we remember Steven Paterson.
In the vastness of the ocean and the rippling of a stream, we remember Michael San Philip.
In the quiet of the night and the glory of the stars, we remember Bruce Simmons.
In the shades of the earth and the colors of the rainbow, we remember Steven Strobert.
In the sweet smell of flowers and the sounds of chirping birds, we remember Gina Sztejnberg.
In the warmth of companions and the company of friends, we remember John Vandevander.
In the cry of an infant and the laughter of children, we remember Christopher Wodenshek.
So long as we lie, they too shall live for they are a part of us, as we remember them.