Mercer County dedicates September 11 memorial
MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
TRENTON, N.J. - In a solemn ceremony attended by hundreds of area residents, including emergency responders and led by Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, the County marked the 10th Anniversary of September 11th by dedicating the new September 11 Memorial at Mercer County Park in West Windsor. The new monument is located in the center of the park, near the marina.
The ceremony included performances of the national anthem and “America the Beautiful” by One Voice, comprising members of the Trenton Children’s Chorus and conducted by Patricia Thel of the Westminster Conservatory Cantus. Hughes delivered brief remarks before dedicating the memorial with a moment of silence. A performance of Amazing Grace closed the ceremony.
On the 10th anniversary, Hughes reflected on the ongoing healing process across America.
“America has broad shoulders and a spirit unmatched anywhere in the world. Ten years later, it remains crucial that we unite as a community around the principles that make America special: tolerance, inclusion, caring and problem-solving,” Hughes said.
Earlier this year, Mercer County obtained a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center site in New York after the attacks on September 11, 2001. The 10-foot, 2,108-pound section of I-beam steel is now the centerpiece of the new memorial.
The design of the Memorial was commissioned by the Mercer County Park Commission, through Kevin Bannon, Executive Director. The design team for the Memorial was led by Michael Sullivan, ASLA, AICP of Clarke Caton Hintz: Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. The vast majority of the construction work was completed in-house by Park Commission staff led by Supervisor of Parks, Jeff Migliaccio.
The Memorial evokes the physical and emotional impacts of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, while also asserting our collective strength to overcome the fear and loss they engendered. The longitudinal axis of the Memorial is oriented north-to-south, a bearing of 180 degrees, the heading of the first plane that slammed into the World Trade Center. Four aluminum benches, representing each of the four hijacked planes, sit at the northern end of the Memorial, facing a monumental, unfinished concrete wall. Two flanking walls sweep inward and upward, suggesting the movement of an airplane, terminating abruptly at the concrete wall. The wall is concave—as if it has been forced inward—yet is unbroken. This wall serves as a backdrop for a composition comprised of a 10 foot- long fragment of a massive steel girder from the World Trade Center and 13 steel cables that extend outward from the wall to grasp the girder. The cables represent the 13 municipalities of Mercer County. Steel cable has special prominence in Mercer County’s industrial heritage, since wire rope (cable) was invented and manufactured by the John A. Roebling & Sons Company of Trenton and utilized in many important bridge projects across the Country. The Memorial represents the collective strength and resiliency of the people of Mercer County to endure the terror attacks, with the cables set in dynamic tension, lifting the girder, echoing the continuing process of healing and recovery. Bronze lettering on the wall reinforces the message of the Memorial through the words of Booker T. Washington: “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”
The section of steel was one of thousands of artifacts recovered from the World Trade Center site and catalogued by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and the Port Authority then commenced a program to give the artifacts to local communities.
The Mercer County September 11 Memorial sits at a site where residents from around the area and visitors can reflect on those who lost their lives and the emotions of that day, said Hughes.
“We took the steps that were necessary to obtain this piece of history so that the generations after us will have a tangible, visceral part of Ground Zero to observe. Within this object lay the emotions of a nation, of the State of New Jersey, and of the residents of Mercer County,” he said.
Mercer County was home to more than two dozen victims, and many first responders from Mercer, including firefighters, medical personnel, and law enforcement, actually worked for days at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attack. Scores of emergency responders attended the event, standing in unison on a grassy knoll overlooking the memorial.
"I’m moved to the core by the number of emergency responders here today,” said Hughes. “Whether you were on scene on that day, risked your life in the aftermath or were moved to join that profession by the events of that day, I salute you my friends, along with all the men and women who are fighting for our liberty. You are heroes to us all. We thank you for keeping us safe, day in and day out."