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Rutherford Remembers: 9/11 Observance

By Jennifer Ersalesi

On Wednesday, September 11th, members of the Rutherford community came together in Lincoln Park to remember the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001 and the community members who lost their lives that day.

Councilwoman Stephanie McGowan told TIR, “This is one of, if not the most, significant ceremony that takes place in the Borough, because it is personal. As I read the story of someone’s life as his family looks on with tears in their eyes, I know that they are counting on us to help keep their loved one’s memory alive. At this ceremony, we try to balance telling the stories of the community members we lost on that day and how they impacted our community and remembering that they are still with us.”

Councilwoman Stephanie McGowan, Troop Leader Ginny Coleman, and Councilman Tom Mullahey along with members of Cub Scout Pack 168. Photo credit: Sally Dalziel

Mayor DeSalvo gave the Welcome Introduction. Reverend Peter Wilkinson, from the First Presbyterian Church, led the Invocation. The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office were present for the Posting of the Colors. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Chief John Russo of the Rutherford Police Department. Under the direction of Mrs. Patricia Blanchard, the Rutherford High School Choir sang the “Star Spangled Banner”. In tribute to the community members who were lost on 9/11, Detective Patrick O’Neill played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

Rutherford residents mourned the loss of:

Maurice Barry

Port Authority Police Officer, Maurice Barry, an Ambulance Corps member and Boy Scout Leader, gave his life while trying to rescue others. He was known for helping those in need. Photo credit:

John Crowe

John Crowe, Rutherford Basketball Coach, member of the Rutherford Baseball Council and the Babe Ruth League. His niece Jennifer Van Blarcom produced the conceptual design for the 9/11 Memorial in Lincoln Park. Photo credit:

Tim Finnerty

Tim Finnerty, Rutherford St. Mary’s CYO Basketball Coach. The Tamblyn Field basketball courts were renovated and renamed to honor him. Each year, the Rutherford Recreation Department presents “A Good Sportsmanship” award to an eighth grade boy and girl who demonstrate Tim Finnerty’s character. Photo credit:

John Griffin

John Griffin, who created the “Hope with Heart” organization along with his wife June to support children with heart defects, after the untimely death of their son. He was also a founding member of the Torch Foundation.Photo credit:

Ronnie Breitweiser

Ronnie Breitweiser, 1980 RHS graduate, who made lasting friendships within the community and was a successful portfolio manager. Photo Credit:

Paul Laszczynski

Port Authority Police Officer, Paul Laszczynski, loved motorcycles and often took his daughters on rides to raise money for various children’s charities. He was also a Rutherford Recreation Coach for softball. As a member of the Port Authority Emergency Services Unit, he received many awards for acts of heroism and ultimately gave his life rescuing others. Photo credit:

James Kazalis, former Rutherford resident and survivor of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, told TIR, “Even after eighteen years, it’s still moving. It is still part of my life. On a social media platform, Quora, where I often answer questions about 9/11, someone questioned why so many parents and grandparents went to pick up their children from school that day. I told them it was because it was a day when it felt as if civilization was being attacked.” Watch James Kazalis’ story here.

The RHS Choir sang, “Dona Nobis Pacem” followed by the Benediction led by Reverend Phil Latronico, Chaplain of the Community of God’s Love. Reverend Latronico explained, “As you go home this evening, remember that our houses exist in freedom, light, and love because we still dare to remember.” Rutherford Boy Scout, Nicholas Valente, played, “Taps”. At the conclusion of “Taps”, Councilwoman McGowan spoke to the crowd gathered and extended the sympathies of the Mayor and Council to the families of “the sons of Rutherford.” The Bergen County Sheriff’s office proceeded with the Retiring of the Colors. Detective Patrick O’Neill played “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” on the bagpipes as many sang along during the Recession.

Councilman Eddie Narucki told TIR, "In our lifetime, this is a day we will remember forever...every minute, every detail is seared into our souls."
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