Memorial honors the 746 dead from N.J.

Across the river from ground zero, a memorial was dedicated to the 700-plus 9/11 victims from New Jersey. Gov. Christie places a rose on a trade center beam there. Story and more photos, A21.
Across the river from ground zero, a memorial was dedicated to the 700-plus 9/11 victims from New Jersey. Gov. Christie places a rose on a trade center beam there. Story and more photos, A21. (MEL EVANS / Associated Press)
Posted: September 11, 2011

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - On a spot where crowds flocked a decade earlier to watch the World Trade Center towers reduced to rubble, remembrance and renewal united Saturday for a ceremony dedicating a 9/11 memorial to New Jersey's victims, with the rebuilding of the site serving as a backdrop.

Situated on the Hudson River waterfront where tourists embark on ferry rides to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the monument, named Empty Sky, purposely aims directly at ground zero to offer a connector between the two states: New York, where the attacks occurred, and New Jersey, which lost 746 residents that day.

Thousands attended the ceremony at Liberty State Park that featured remarks by Gov. Christie and others and included the reading of a poem found in the park in the days after the attacks that cast the tragedy as uniting all people regardless of race, class, faith, or language.

Christie noted that just a minute of silence for each of the nearly 3,000 victims would last until Monday afternoon.

"But the silence for the loved ones they've lost has lasted 10 years, minute by minute," he said as some in the audience dabbed at tears. "This acknowledges that their lives mattered and that they still matter today, and that we all feel some small part of their pain and loss."

Designed by architects Jessica Jamroz and Frederic Schwartz, the memorial's 30-foot-high towers - stretching 208 feet, 10 inches long, the width of the original trade center towers - are sunk into a berm and divided by a granite walkway that faces ground zero. The name of each New Jersey victim is etched in stainless steel in 4-inch-high letters. Two pieces of steel from the twin towers sit at the entrance.

"In its simplicity, it's beautiful," said Sean Hennessey of Staten Island, whose uncle Brian Hennessey of Flemington died on 9/11. "It's a good way to remember where [the towers] once stood."

After the ceremony, victims' family members walked through the monument and stopped to take pictures or trace their loved one's name in pencil before exiting at the waterfront promenade where so many stood and watched the tragedy unfold.

Barbara Kernes, a cousin of Edison resident Sheldon Kanter, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 103d floor of the north tower at the World Trade Center, traveled from Upstate New York for the ceremony and was struck by the vivid reflections created by the parallel towers' stainless steel interiors.

"It's stark, and it's startling in a way," Kernes said after walking through. "It's reminiscent of the feeling of the twin towers; being in there with a lot of people, you can almost feel a little piece of what they felt, being trapped."

Ellie Knapp of Randolph, whose best friend lost her son George Strauch on 9/11, attended the ceremony with her husband, Fred, who likened the monument's plain, unadorned feel to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.

"But those people were at war, and these people were just going to work," he said. "They had no idea what was about to happen."

Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, also walked between the towers as cameras clicked.

"Every swath of New Jersey was affected by this," he said as they emerged. "They were representative of what New Jersey is all about, and we're honored to have them be part of this."

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