West Windsor, N.J. – Commemorating the 11th anniversary of September 11, 2001, dignitaries, guests, and Mercer County officials joined faculty, staff and students of Mercer County Community College (MCCC) on Sept. 11 to pay homage to those who perished, their families, and to the men and women who risked their lives to help those in need.
“It is appropriate that this ceremony takes place at MCCC, a place where the dreams of freedom and opportunity are shared and nourished every day” said MCCC Board Chair Mark Matzen.
Sergeant Michael Yeh of the Lawrence Township Police Department, a rescue specialist and volunteer firefighter in Princeton Junction, presented a moving reflection about the days he served at the World Trade Center site as part of the NJ Urban Search and Rescue Team, working 12 hour shifts. “It was our job to locate people who tried to crawl under vehicles to escape the fallen buildings. Some of the trucks had been flattened to 3 feet.”
Yeh recalled his team’s efforts to rescue survivors and its disappointment to discover only bodies. He said his team got some satisfaction from being able to provide closure to families. “Every time a body was recovered, all stopped and gave due respect,” he said.
Following a moving invocation by Rev. Robert Wittick, who serves MCCC as chaplain, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes addressed the assembled guests. Wearing a tie covered with American flags, a gift from his son who told him to wear it July 4 and Sept. 11, Hughes said, “Even though he was only ten years old at the time, he recognized the gravity of a day like today. The spirit of community we saw that day should be the spirit of community as we move forward.”
MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue pointed out a section of steel beam from the World Trade Center that was displayed at the site. The New Jersey State Museum donated two beams to the college that were cut from impact zone steel after the attacks. The beams have been permanently encased and installed at the college’s campuses in West Windsor and Trenton.
Alison Varra of Hamilton, a second-year MCCC music student, sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and closed the ceremony with “God Bless America.”