Locals remember 9/11, the day ‘our country forever changed’

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Galloway Ptl. Kevin Costa with the police color guard.

GALLOWAY – “Eleven years ago our country was forever changed,” retired Pleasantville deputy fire chief Mike Corbo told some 200 people gathered at the Patriot Lake gazebo to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedies Tuesday night.

Then he recited a list of names of local volunteers who were among the first responders to the World Trade Center site in New York City.

“Their lives were forever changed as well,” Corbo said.

He shared some dark memories. All had extensive training, but “all that training did not prepare us” for what was to come, he said.

“I asked an advance team member what to expect,” Corbo said. “All I got back was a blank stare.”

The first few days were spent in lines handing up buckets of dust, he said.

“Three days at Ground Zero became 10 days,” Corbo said. “We shared the area with rats. The Salvation Army came and cooked for us and brought supplies including the flip flops I still carry in my equipment bag.”

The New York Fire Department lost more men that day than it had in the past 100 years, he said. But the nation has spent the past 11 years rebuilding and growing stronger.

“We’ve become a safer United States of America,” Corbo said. “The greatest country in the world.”

Galloway Township Fire Chief Ron Garbutt was master of ceremonies for the event hosted by the fire department.

The police color guard presented the flag. Boy Scout Troop 26, sponsored by the Germania Fire Company, led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Berchtold family sang the national anthem and said the Lord’s Prayer. Al Syvertsen, associate pastor of Beacon Free Evangelical Church, delivered the invocation. Mayor Don Purdy welcomed the crowd.

Alexis Rodriguez of Absegami High School sang “God Bless the USA.” Absegami student Malia Monk sang a unique rendition of “God Bless America.” The Absegami chorus sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

One wreath was placed by Police Chief Patrick Moran, Ambulance Squad Chief Chuck Uhl and Bayview Fire Company Assistant Chief Chuck Mackintosh. Another wreath was placed by Galloway Township Middle School students Matt Satow and Elizabeth Ryu. Satow and Ryu are president and vice president of the Student Council.

Deacon Richard Maxwell of Katharine Drexel Church, Egg Harbor Township, delivered the benediction. Pomona firefighter Joseph Ward played “Taps.”

The Atlantic City Fire Department Sandpipers Pipes and Drums closed the program with “Amazing Grace.”

Troop 26 Boy Scouts after leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Berchtold family sings the national anthem.

Township Fire Chief Ron Garbutt introduces a speaker Tuesday night.

Galloway Mayor Don Purdy praises first responders everywhere.

Alexis Rodriguez sings “God Bless the USA.”

Mike Corbo tells what it was like at Ground Zero.

Malia Monk sings her unique rendition of “God Bless America.”

Cheryl Breitzman leads the Absegami High School chorus in “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

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