SADDLE RIVER, N.J. -- Borough resident Samah El Shami was late for work at Morgan Stanley in the WTC South Tower on 9/11 when she heard the news.
“We were the largest tenant in the building,” she said, the pain visible in her face this morning as dozens gathered at the Wandell School on East Allendale Road before American and 9/11 flags flying at half staff.
“We’re Muslim Americans, and people don’t realize we were affected, too,” said Shami's sister, Yasmin Hassan.
Several dozen parents, students, faculty and members of borough government attended the morning ceremony.
Mayor Samuel Raia challenged kindergarten through fifth grade students to use the National Day of Service for kindness, patience, and positive assistance. A half-dozen students won essay contests, sharing ways that they were proud to be American.
"People start to forget what really happened that day," said John Peros, who was there to hear his fifth-grade son, Jack, recite his essay.
Officials thanked Patricia Zampieri, whose family launched the Robert Zampieri Scholarship Fund in memory of her son, a Wandell alumnus, who was among the victims.
Wearing red, white and blue, Zampieri was pleased that school officials moved a flagpole to a more prominent position to display flags that she donated.
Over the years, she and her husband, Robert Sr., traveled to various local memorials, such as the Tear Drop in Bayonne and the Empty Sky in Jersey City, one of her favorites.
His passing in 2013 made mourning even more painful.
“I’m the only one in a big house right now," Zampieri said.
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