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9/11 memorial saluted in solemn remembrance

Article - Monday, October 24, 2011

LOWER CHICHESTER — Described by many in attendance as a wonderful afternoon, Sunday’s dedication of the new 9/11 memorial was both touching and reverent.

The centerpiece of the memorial, which sits in a place of prominence at the Rocco Gaspari Sr. Park on Hewes Avenue, is an 800-pound, 4-foot beam that was once part of the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The beam sits on a base in the shape of the Pentagon and is supported by two pieces of steel to signify the Twin Towers. In the background, flags fly high representing the United States, firefighters and police.

Lower Chichester Township was one of 1,500 municipalities nationwide that was entrusted with an honored piece of history.

“The slogan of this memorial is: “We will never forget until the sun shines no more,” said Commissioners President Rocco Gaspari Jr. “Remember that we live in the greatest country in the world. Our courage is our strength. The United States does not live in fear; we live in freedom.”

Gaspari expressed appreciation to all of the members of the 9/11 Memorial committee, which included representatives from all of the communities in the lower end of Delaware County.

Among those were Trainer Mayor Fran Zalewski, Marcus Hook Mayor James “Jay” Schiliro, Upper Chichester commissioners President Jim Stewart, Upper Chichester Police Chief Tom Bush, Lower Chichester Police Chief Tom Gaspari, Rocco Gaspari Sr., Marcus Hook Council Vice President Josephine “Gigi” Laird, Lower Chichester Township Administrator Joseph. P. Possenti Jr., Lower Chichester Fire Co. President Mark Lamplugh, fire company member Keith Davis, Upper Chichester Commissioner Joe Baiocco, and Lower Chichester commissioners Vince McCormick and Ray Baldwin.

The ceremony began with the unveiling of the monument by the five representatives of Lower Chichester, who drove in a caravan to take possession of the beam. They are Gaspari Jr., Tom Gaspari, Possenti, Joseph Corcoran, and Lower Chichester Detective Ralph Conte.

The National Anthem was performed by mezzo soprano Natalie Gaspari, followed by a benediction by Holy Saviour Pastor the Rev. John. J. Sibel and remarks presented by town representatives and guest speaker, former Republican 7th District Congressman Curt Weldon of Thornbury.

Weldon spoke of Unity Day, which took place at Rose Tree Park about a month after the 2011 attacks on the Work Trade Center, Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa. He spoke of the 10,000 people who attended that ceremony and reiterated the fact that the memorial is not about a piece of steel, but instead about people.

“Sept. 11, 2001, was not just a national tragedy, it was a personal tragedy for families,” said Weldon. “It wasn’t about other people, it was about us. We lost pilot Michael Horrocks of Middletown, and I lost a friend in Ray Downey of Brooklyn. You have created a lasting memorial for all and you deserve all the credit in the world. I am so very proud to say that I grew up in this neighborhood.”

U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, was also on hand for the nearly two-hour ceremony.

“This beautiful memorial is a testimonial that speaks to sacrifice,” said Meehan. “There was a tremendous amount of work and dedication put into this lasting tribute.”

Chief Tom Gaspari, who first learned about the possibility of Lower Chichester applying for the steel beam from an article in a police magazine, was emotional while speaking.

“We will always remember the 3,000 lives that were taken from us that day,” said Tom Gaspari. “The people that did this to our country thought they caught us in a moment of weakness, but what they did not understand is that they did nothing but awaken a sleeping giant. We will never forget — never.”