EMERSON, N.J. -- There were tears, prayers and applause as the Emerson Fire Department unveiled its own 9/11 memorial at the town's first-ever remembrance ceremony.
"It was 14 years ago to the day that the spirit of America was reborn," said an emotional Mayor Louis Lamatina.
He had to stop at points during his speech to compose himself and hold back tears.
"I am proud to stand amongst our hometown heroes," the mayor said.
It was during the fire department's 100th anniversary in 2005 when chairperson Ron Berg and members looked to redo the front of the fire house and create two memorials. Five years of raising funds and negotiating logistical issues later, they'd achieve their dream.
The 9/11 memorial consists of a piece of steel from the World Trade Center mounted on a giant black granite cube with etchings on each side: the World Trade Center, Pentagon, Flight 93 and one side dedicated to Gary Albero, an Emerson resident who died in the attacks.
Albero, who was 39, an insurance broker in New York City, didn't even work in the WTC. Aracelis, his wife, said he was there that day for a broker meeting with his parent company.
"He was only there because of a stroke of terrible luck," said his son Michael, who was only a year and a half when his father died.
The second monument is a black granite cross honoring past and deceased firefighters. An etching of a firefighter kneeling is displayed on the front and a prayer on the back.
Elizabeth Reilly, a town ambulance volunteer who lives across the street from the fire house, loves her new view.
"It's beautiful," Reilly said. "They did a gorgeous job."
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