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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: 20 Years of Remembering

By Kevin O'Toole, September 07 2021 12:01 am

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and aboard Flight 93. While 20 years seems like a longtime for some, those who lost loved ones in those senseless attacks remember that day like it happened yesterday.  Despite the passage of time, we all remember the time and date when the evilness occurred, when we lost over 2,600 individuals. It is critically important that we all never forget that fateful day.

On September 11, 2001, the Port Authority family lost 84 of its members, including 37 men and women who served so honorably in the Port Police Department. During the months following the attacks, while rescue and recovery were ongoing, many others suffered illness and death.  It is time we include them in the list of individuals to remember. 

This year marks 20 years of pain, 20 years of suffering, 20 years of recovering, and sometime of healing.

As the Chairman of the Port, I am asked to speak on behalf of our amazing agency, I am asked to speak to the unimaginable loss, I am asked to speak about the unthinkable pain, and I am looked upon to provide a path and light forward. No amount of words, alone, can provide the comfort or direction we all so desire.  We must continue to move forward to properly remember and honor those we lost in this attack, and those we lost in the 1993 bombing.  We must uphold the mission statement of the Port, hold true to the resiliency of this great agency, and work tirelessly to honor those who died on this fateful day. 

I, like the rest of us, lean heavily on the current Port Authority employees, led by our dedicated and noble leader, Executive Director, Rick Cotton, to continue this fight with incredible resolve, honor, and purpose. Many of today’s employees lost loved ones and many still bear the scars, physical and emotional, of what occurred 20 years ago, but it is from these employees that we draw our strength to move forward. We do so to honor those who have come before and those who died wearing an identification card that had the words “Port Authority.” They will all forever remain part of the Port Authority family.

As I am typing this, I am listening to a song by David Ramirez—We’re Not Going Anywhere

’I’m not going anywhere
No I’m not going anywhere

You can bury me in the ground
Or spread my ash
I don’t care
I’m not goin’ anywhere

You’re gonna hear my voice loud and clear
Gonna have all my words in your ear
And when you can’t see my face
Or feel my warm embrace
Well then find you the nearest radio
Then mama you will know
That I’m not goin’ anywhere
No I’m not goin’ anywhere

You can bury me in the ground
Or spread my ashes
I don’t care
I’m not goin’ anywhere

I just went up to meet with Ernie and Jack

Gonna have a couple three beers and a couple three laughs

And when you shake hands with grace
And pass through the pearly gates

Well then find you the nearest neon sign
Then mama you’ll see I was right
I’m not going anywhere
No I’m not going anywhere

You can bury me in the ground
Or spread my ashes
I don’t care
I’m not going anywhere

I’m not going anywhere
No I’m not going anywhere
You can bury me in the ground
Or spread my ashes
I don’t care
I’m not going anywhere
I’m not going anywhere
I’m not going anywhere
I’m not going anywhere

We will never forget.

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