15th Anniversary Of 9-11 Terrorist Attacks Commemorated Throughout Franklin


The 9-11 Shoe Memorial at Somerset Presbyterian Church.

The 15th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks were observed in the township throughout the course of the day.

At about 8:30 a.m., an observance organized by Mayor Philip Kramer was held at the township’s 9-11 Memorial near the library. Among those in attendance were Township Councilman Charles Onyejiaka (D-Ward 3), Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large), Alex Kharazi, head of the Franklin Township Interfaith Council and Darrin Russo, the Democratic candidate for Somerset County Sheriff.

The township will have a more formal observance on Sept. 13,  prior to the Township Council meeting, but Kramer said he did not want the actual day to go by without in observance.

“I could not let the day go by without commemorating it,” he said. “Every piece of steel (from the twin towers) that’s anywhere in the country should have someone memorialize it on the 15th anniversary.”

Kramer read from an email he sent to a friend after he and his wife went to the Ground Zero about a week after the attacks.

“The buildings are ripped like cloth, with tattered, burnt edges,” he wrote. “Steel beams twisted indiscrimiently. Whole sides of office buildings with few if any, intact windows. A thin, very fine grey dust covers everything. Posters are everywhere of missing people. Candle memorials throughout the city and every fire department has a shrine to their lost. Surrounding the site are blocks and blocks of intact business without any clientele.”

“We went to the city to heal ourselves and help the city heal a little,” he said.

“Let us pray that there is peace and brotherhood in the world,” Kharazi said. “Let us pray that those in positions of power around the world work to eradicate terrorism by spreading peace and justice for all. Let us pray that we all practice what the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed had beautifully stated, that we are all either brothers in faith or equal in humanity.”

Prasad, who Kramer credited as being the driving force behind the 9-11 Memorial, said his inspiration was the death of Sheryl Rosenbaum, one of six township residents killed in the attacks.

Prasad said he knew Rosenbaum’s mother, at the time the owner of Nature’s Weigh natural food store in the Village Plaza, and that Sheryl Rosenbaum went to Franklin High School with his son. The memorial, he said, was meant to provide “closure for the six families who lost loved ones. We have some place where we can memorialize these people, these innocent victims of terror.”

“I just hope and pray that sanity comes into this world and that we have peace and brotherhood in the world, rather than this craziness that’s going on,” Prasad said. “That’s the message of 9-11 to me.”

Russo, who was a police officer at the time of the attacks, said he was part of an around-the-clock team set up by PBA Local 154 to assist with the cleanup.

“I saw how the communities, when you came back home, really went to high levels of respecting the military and police,” he said. “From tragedy came flags flying every day.”

Later in the afternoon, the annual firefighters’ memorial service was held at St. Matthias Church on John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Names of those firefighters killed on Sept. 11 were read, followed by the names of firefighters who died after September 11.

Afterward,  outside, a wreath was laid near a plaque installed in honor of township resident John M. Collins, a New York City firefighter who was one of the six Franklin residents killed on that day.

At Somerset Presbyterian Church, a “Shoe Memorial” is in place. The memorial was created with donated shoes the church collected through August.

In the evening, the Masjid-e-Ali Mosque on Cedar Grove Lane hosted a 15th anniversary commemoration, sponsored by the group Muslims For Peace. Local politicians and faith leaders from around the region attended.

Kramer led the township delegation, which included Prasad, Onyejiaka, Deputy Mayor Ted Chase (D-Ward 1) and Township Councilwoman Roz Sherman (D-Ward 2).

Kramer said he immediately agreed to appear at the mosque’s commemoration when he was invited because, he said, “I believe that loyal patriotic Americans should spend the day commemorating the event with the loyal, patriotic Americans.”

The event’s keynote speaker was Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the Code Pink peace activist organization and author of the book, “Kingdom of the Unjust, Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.”

“When we look back 15 years, we certainly look back with sorrow at the tremendous destruction of 9-11, she said, “and we look back with sorrow at every day since then, because of the way we reacted.”

Benjamin said that rather than a wholesale military response, the United States should have focused on bringing those directly responsible for the attacks to justice.

“We look back at the military response 15 years later,” she said. “Has terrorism ended? It has just grown. It has spread. We are part of the problem.”

“The U.S. military response is not the answer,” she said. “When are we going to learn?”

Benjamin said the United States should stop supporting repressive government, such as that of Saudi Arabia.

“We don’t question why the government which is responsible for the most extreme form of Islam is an ally,” she said, referring to Saudi Arabia and Wahabbism.

2016 9-11 Commemorations

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