Officials in Washington Township, NJ have removed a 9/11 memorial after public outcry over the fact that the memorial was inscribed with the names of the officials themselves, and not of any victims of the attacks.
In the town, located in Warren County, a monument was made with a piece of World Trade Center steel alongside a small granite monument that had the names of the Washington Township mayor, deputy mayor, committee members and township administrator inscribed.
Dennis Ryan, a former police officer who played the bagpipes at the dedication ceremony, wrote an angry letter to a talk radio station after noticing the inscription. “When I saw was written on the stone I got really, really angry,” he told CBS New York. “Three thousand people lost their lives and they’re going to get their names memorialized in granite? It’s unconscionable. I couldn’t believe it.”
The memorial was removed, and Mayor Samir Elbassiouny apologized in a statement: “I am truly sorry if we have offended anyone.” But he told NBC New York that he thought it was more of a proclamation than a monument. “If I write a proclamation honoring someone, I sign my name to it,” he said.
Several members of the township committee told the Star-Ledger that they didn’t realize their names would be on the memorial. “I didn’t want to disrupt the festivities,” Committeeman Robert Finke said. “What am I going to do? Make an issue out of it?”
Committeewoman Eve Marks called it “slap in the face.”
“I think it was meant in good faith,” she said. “Unfortunately, it created a spotlight on our township as if the committee as a whole was insensitive to the day.”