'I Can't Believe It's Been 10 Years'
Residents, first responders run for and remember those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
Michael Wainick showed his 5-year-old daughter Rebecca one of the plaques at the township’s 9/11 Memorial Sunday morning.
“I just explained to her why this day is so important so she understands that it was a very bad day,” Wainick said. “She knows something bad happened that day, but she needs to understand the importance of it.”
People walked around the memorial, looking at the images of the seven residents who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Others talked with each other about that day 10 years ago when nearly 3,000 people died after three fuel-filled hijacked aircraft stuck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and a fourth crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township, Pa.
“We can’t just focus on the despair of that day, we have to remember the good that occurred when people ran toward something that we would have run away from — to help people they didn’t even know,” Kim Kassar, a Lincoln Park resident who was there with his son Joseph. “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.”
More than 200 people participated in the township’s first hosting of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run. The national event is in memory of New York City firefighter Stephen Siller, one of the more than 300 firefighters who died on 9/11. Unable to enter Manhattan from Brooklyn that morning, Siller abandoned his car and ran the rest of the way through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to respond to the terror attacks.
The more than $5,700 raised from the run will go towards the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and help support local emergency service personnel. Wayne was the only municipality in New Jersey to host the run.
“We must never forgot,” Maria Balarin, who, together with township employee Tim Collins, organized the run. “We’re all the same today. People have come together from different walks of life and we all feel and experience the same thing: To remember what happened.”
Seven Wayne residents died in the attacks on the World Trade Center: Robert Deraney, Jean Caviasco DePalma, Daniel Afflitto, Paul Acquaviva, Barry Glick, Leo Roberts, and Gregg John Froehner.
Affflitto’s parents, Eleanor and Joe, attended the ceremony held after the run.
“To this day, he had the most captivating smile I’ve ever seen,” Eleanor said of her son. “He was such a joy to be around.”
Afflitto’s children are 9 and 10 years old. Afflitto’s wife found out she was pregnant with her second child on Sept. 13, 2001.
“He was always so compassionate and so giving,” said Wayne Policeman John Parr, a friend of Afflito. “Whether we were out at a fancy restaurant or just out at the diner having burgers, he was always the first one to reach into his wallet to pay the check.”
Froehner was a Wayne police dispatcher and a Port Authority policeman. He was a Boy Scout with the new-defunct Troop 131 from St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.
Council President Joseph Schweighardt was the troop’s scoutmaster. He arrived at the event early and stood in front of Froehner's memorial plaque.
“Scouts are taught to do a good turn to someone every day. Helping others 10 years ago, that was Gregg's,” Schweighardt said.