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The original item was published from 9/13/2022 12:43:00 PM to 9/27/2022 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: September 13, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Middletown Remembers 21st Anniversary of 9/11 with Silent Memorial Service

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For Immediate Release - September 13, 2022

On Sunday, September 11th, Middletown Township held a silent memorial service at the Middletown World Trade Center Memorial Gardens to honor the 37 residents we lost 21 years ago. The Memorial Gardens, located next to the Middletown Arts Center (36 Church Street), rests under a canopy of trees and features a landscaped path with benches and a personalized memorial stone to honor each life.

Hundreds of people, including 9/11 victims' loved ones, Township Committee members, local dignitaries, first responders, veterans, and community members, stood in the pouring rain to attend the service. Prior to the ceremony, bagpiper (and Middletown resident) Michael Hannigan played patriotic music as the Middletown Township Fire Department raised a large American flag. U.S. Naval Weapons Station Earle Color Guard officially began the service by presenting the colors as attendees held candles on both sides of the personalized brick pathway, which was installed last year to commemorate the 20th anniversary. 

The Middletown Township Committee, along with local dignitaries, first responders, and veterans' organizations, followed the Color Guard and initiated a moment of silence near the archway of the Memorial Gardens. During this time, Mayor Tony Perry and the Township Committee, as well as contingents from American Legion Posts 338 and 515 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2179, laid wreaths. Following the wreath-laying, everyone bowed their heads as Fire Chief Bernie Chenoweth broke the silence with 37 bell tolls, each in honor of a resident we lost. Following the final toll, the Township Committee led a silent candlelit procession through the Memorial Gardens.

"Despite the rain, our community came out in droves to support our annual memorial service, which is a testament to how we continue to uphold our vow to never forget,” said Mayor Tony Perry. “The addition of our very own Survivor Tree at the memorial is also a reminder of resilience and hope as we continue to move forward.” 

The Middletown Survivor Tree made its first public appearance at the ceremony. It is a descendant of the 9/11 Memorial Survivor Tree that endured the World Trade Center terror attacks in 2001. The charred and damaged tree offered hope to our devastated nation when it was pulled from the rubble, then rehabilitated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks). The Survivor Tree returned home in 2010 and was planted at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Earlier this year, NYC Parks graciously donated this Callery pear tree to Middletown. It is the first clone produced from a cutting of the original that was given to a municipality outside of New York City and a living tribute to our strength as a community. 

Residents honored at the Gardens are:

Lorraine D. Antigua

Jane S. Beatty

Donna Bernaerts-Kearns

Alfred J. Braca

Ronald M. Breitweiser

Patrick J. Buhse

Stephen J. Cangialosi

Swede Joseph Chevalier

Dolores Marie Costa

Edward Desimone III

Michael Egan

David Ferrugio

Daniel J. Gallagher

John M. Grazioso

Felicia Hamilton

Patrick A. Hoey

Kathleen A. Hunt Casey

Brendan Mark Lang

Rosanne P. Lang

Anna A. Laverty

Michael Patrick McDonnell

Peter T. Milano

Louis J. Minervino

Justin John Molisani, Jr.

James Thomas Murphy

Christopher Newton-Carter

Paul R. Nimbley

Robert Emmett Parks, Jr.

Nicholas P. Pietrunti

John M. Pocher

Beth Ann Quigley

Gregg Reidy

Robert Andrew Spencer

Dick Stadelberger

Kenneth Tietjen

Anthony Ventura

Rodney James Wotton

September 11th is recognized annually as Patriot Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance in Middletown Township by the Middletown Township Committee. Flag banners are installed annually as a tribute to the September 11th victims. The flag banners hang on telephone poles along Kings Highway, Church Street, and Middletown-Lincroft Road. The banners are sponsored by local businesses, organizations, and individuals. The flag banner display became part of the Township’s annual 9/11 commemoration in 2011. The project was spearheaded by Tony Fiore, who served as Mayor in 2011 and 2012.

About the Middletown WTC Memorial Gardens

The Memorial Gardens were developed by the Middletown WTC Memorial Committee, a group consisting of family members and interested residents. The Memorial Gardens were opened to the public on September 11, 2003. Construction of the memorial was made possible largely through donations. To mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Middletown WTC Memorial Gardens Committee made improvements to the Gardens that included new landscaping, lighting, and a walkway of personalized bricks that leads to the memorial pathway. Two new memorials were also installed: a first responder/military memorial, and a memorial for those we lost due to 9/11-related illnesses, including the late Middletown Township Police Detective Lt. Joseph Capriotti. Detective Lt. Capriotti was known as the “keeper of the list” of the friends and neighbors we lost. He personally notified every Middletown family who had lost a loved one that day. In addition to these touching memorials, the Memorial Gardens now features a Middletown 9/11 Survivor Tree. This tree is a clone produced from the original 9/11 Survivor Tree graciously donated by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) in May 2022. The 9/11 Survivor Tree is a Callery pear tree that endured the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. This is the first time NYC Parks has donated a clone to a municipality outside of New York City. 

Visitors are welcome at the Middletown WTC Memorial Gardens, located at the Middletown Arts Center at 36 Church Street, from dawn to dusk daily. The Memorial Gardens continue to be maintained with financial assistance from the Middletown WTC Memorial Gardens Fund in partnership with Middletown Township. 

Donations for the perpetual maintenance of the Gardens are welcome and appreciated. Donations can be sent to: Middletown WTC Memorial Gardens, c/o Mayor’s Office, Middletown Township, 1 Kings Highway, Middletown, NJ 07748.

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View photos from the ceremony.
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