PARAMUS, N.J. — Father John McCrone’s faith in humanity was strengthened when hundreds of parishioners from the Church of Annunciation showed up for the funeral of 9/11 first responder Bruce Reynolds of the Port Authority Police Department.
“Considering he wasn’t a local boy, I was always proud of the parish’s reaction,” McCrone told Daily Voice, moments before the Bergen County Police Chief Association's annual 9/11 memorial service at the Garden State Plaza. “It was as though they wanted to do something, and all they could do was gather and pray.”
Regretfully, it often takes tragedy to elicit compassion, he said.
“People always rise to the occasion when there’s a crisis,” said McCrone, pastor of St. Paul RC Church in Ramsey and a former Paramus police chaplain. “I just wish we had held onto that longer.”
The service at the granite memorial donated by the chiefs association in 2002 in a highly trafficked area outside Macy’s featured remarks from, among others, Wood-Ridge Police Chief Joseph Rutigliano, the association president. There were also presentations by the Fort Lee Police Honor Guard and the Pipes and Drums of Bergen County.
The location was chosen "so that literally tens of thousands of people can pass by this memorial and take a moment to reflect on the events of that day and honor all those who lost their lives,” said former Hillsdale Police Chief Frank Mikulski, who was the association president when it was dedicated more than a dozen years ago. "And not just on the anniversary of September 11, but every day."
McCrone said he won't forget the restaurant owners who called him in from the street for a meal, or the bar that reopened near Ground Zero a few weeks after the attacks.
Nor will he forget turning the corner from Chambers Street onto the West Side Highway and seeing the city skyline without its towers for the first time.
“As long as we remember that, we’ll have the ability to have that change us for something good,” he said. “You move on, but you hope moving on doesn’t mean forgetting.”
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