First Responders Honor First Responders at Sept. 11 Service

Ceremony held at Newark Museum

After terrorists attacked the World Trade Center 10 years ago and left lower Manhattan in ruins, numerous police and firefighters from New Jersey crossed the Hudson River and reported to Ground Zero either to help search for survivors, put out blazes, or by manning police stations.

Anthony Campos, Newark's police deputy chief of operations, was one of the city's many first responders who answered the call of duty on 9/11. As then captain of Newark's 3rd police precinct, he helped local officers by patrolling New York City, fielding emergency calls, and making arrests.

"Everybody who went there, all ranks, went on their own time and remained for full tour of duty and then some," said Campos, who was head of the Newark contingent of police officers at Ground Zero. "They would work eight hours here (Newark) and then go there."

Campos and other first responders who came to the mutual aide of New York City were honored at the Newark Museum in a solemn ceremony Friday, which also paid tribute to the civilians, police, and firefighters, and paramedics who lost their lives on that sunny Tuesday morning.

In a grassy courtyard in the rear of the museum, city officials, police, and many firefighters from Newark, West Orange, Millburn, Summit, Belleville, Montclair and other towns gathered for the ceremony, which was sponsored by the city and the Newark Fire Department Historical Association.

The start of the event was marked with a singing of the "Star Spangled Banner," the Newark police color guard's presentation of ceremonial flags, prayer, and a rendition of "Amazing Grace" from the Newark Firefighters Pipe Band.

With Harry Carter, former Newark fire battalion chief, as master of ceremonies, speakers included Mayor Cory Booker, South Ward Patch Editor Lia Eustachewich, who read, and Peter Brady, who lost his father Michael G. Jacobs in Tower Two during the attacks.

"We all remember all the lives lost on that horrible day in September 10 years ago, but we give special recognition to those first responders," said Booker, who also noted that five Newark residents died on 9/11. On Sunday, the city will dedicate a 9/11 Garden of Remembrance to residents Rev. Sean Booker, Elizabeth Ann Darling, Daphne F. Elder, Syed Abdul Fatha and Harry Ramos, all of whom perished in the attacks.

Other dignitaries Friday included Michael Lalor, former Newark fire chief, and Newark's Police Chief Sheilah Coley, who both volunteered their time as first responders. Lalor said he pitched in on the Ground Zero bucket line which was responsible for excavation and looking for any survivors or bodies.

During the ceremony, Fateen Ziyad, the city’s fire director, paid tribute to the fallen of that day and the people who served at Ground Zero.

"My prayers for them, my love is with them for they are children of God," he said.

As a show of thanks, New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Lt. Joseph LaPointe from the ceremonial unit of the New York City Fire Department presented gifts - a firefighter helmet and a book on 9/11 respectively - to the Newark Fire Museum, which is housed at the city museum.

The helmet, Cassano explained, has a red card with the number 343 representing the number of firefighters and paramedics who lost their lives and a badge that says 9/11.

"Without the help of the nation, we would never have gotten through this," said LaPointe, who also recounted his experiences at Ground Zero.

Newark Fire Chief John Centanni was then a captain in the city's Vailsburg section when the 9/11 attacks occurred. In a speech during the event, he told about how he and other firefighters went by boat to Ground Zero that very night.

He said it looked like something from a "Godzilla" movie: cars and buildings tossed carelessly into ashy rubble and silence and dust permeating the scene, which was filled with rescue workers, police, and firefighters.

"I am proud of everybody who stood up in that terrible time," he said. "God bless you all first responders."


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