NJ Cemetery Overlooking Manhattan Gets 9/11 Memorial

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Holy Cross Cemetery in New Jersey overlooks Manhattan. On 9/11, it became a gathering place as stunned residents watched the burning towers. Now it has its own memorial to the attacks. (Published Tuesday, Jul 5, 2011)

    A quiet New Jersey cemetery, which sits on a ridge overlooking Manhattan and has special ties to 9/11, has a new memorial to the tragedy that happened nearly 10 years ago.

    On the day of the attacks, Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, N.J., became a gathering spot for people who first stood stunned, watching the towers burn. Later, families posted flyers searching for missing loved ones.

    Within weeks, the idea that the cemetery should have its own memorial began to grow, according to Andrew Schafer, executive director for Catholic Cemeteries in the Newark Archdiocese.

    "This is sacred ground," Schafer said while standing in the shadow of two 20-foot-high steel frames that portray the twin towers.

    Suspended between the frames is a glass cross that also evokes memories of the two crossed steel beams at ground zero that some saw as a religious symbol for the many months it stood watch over excavation work.

    "It's such a serious subject," said Bronna Butler, the New Jersey artist commissioned to design the memorial.

    The memorial also includes a four-panel montage of photographs. Butler spent countless hours going through thousands to pick the right images.

    "Like everybody around here, this was a very personal tragedy," Butler said of the experience.

    Just steps away lay the tombstones of 10 people who died in the attack, in what Schafer calls a 9/11 section.

    Also part of this special burial ground are the graves of several local soldiers who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    There are now dozens of 9/11 memorials scattered across the tri-state area. The official national memorial at ground zero is expected to open on the anniversary.

    When asked if there could be too many, Schafer compared it this way: "How many times can you kiss your wife?"

    "I don't think there could ever be too many 9/11 memorials," he added.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @Brian4NY