Perucci, the chairman of the committee, had worked hard with other members to make certain Bayonne had a monument that would serve as a fitting tribute to the victims - not only of Sept. 11, 2001, but also to those who perished in the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.
After several years of fundraising and planning for the possible construction of their own monument, the committee got what several members called "a gift from God," although more accurately it was a gift from the people of Russia, and the monument's creator, Zurab Tsereteli.
Called "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism," the monument is a bronze-colored steel rectangle with a rip in its middle and a steel tear hanging like a bell clapper in its middle.
Tsereteli said it represents the tears of the world after 9/11, which he hopes over time, will change to a tear of joy when the world is rid of terrorism.
The monument was donated to Bayonne after Jersey City refused it, saying it was too big.
"It fell into our laps," Perrucci said prior to the daytime ceremony.
Perrucci thought Jersey City was crazy to give it up.
"Isn't it beautiful?" he asked, pausing between his cleanup efforts to stare up at the massive tower of steel that had been installed at Tsereteli's expense - at an estimated $17 million or more.
"They had to drive piles down into the bedrock," a weary Mayor Joseph Doria said. "If city had had to pay for the installation, we couldn't have afforded to do it."
Perrucci, already weary from his weekend duties as part of the Korean Vets color guard marching in two parades, received a slight reprieve as the head of the committee for the first part of the day's festivities.
He got to sit on the same stage with dignitaries such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton; Sergey Mironov, head of the Russian Parliament; U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, and others.
But for the evening local prayer vigil at the monument site, Perucci put on his uniform again.
"This is what you have to do," he said, pausing to sit for a moment before dumping half-empty bottles of water into a large black plastic bag, as part of the committee's effort to prepare for evening prayers.
Doria, Clinton speak
Doria spoke at both the daytime and evening ceremonies. He served master of ceremonies for the daytime event, introducing each dignitary.
Lautenberg, in speaking before the crowd, compared 9/11 to Pearl Harbor and said the events of 2001 would remain fixed in people's memory in the same way. He said the Twin Towers were like cities and he recalled the horror of watching them vanish.
But he and Menendez said 9/11 united Americans in a way terrorists did not expect.
"It is a day that bound us together," Lautenberg said. "Terrorists tried to break us on 9/11, but they could not break our spirit."
Virginia Bauer, who serves as New Jersey's secretary of commerce, lost her husband David on 9/11, and said not a day goes by that she doesn't think of him. But she also said she knew she was not alone, and that others were united behind her.
Julia Collins, co-author of "Love You, Mean It," also lost her husband and along with Bauer, is a member of a committee of people who lost loved ones on 9/11. She said she believed America had unshakeable faith that defies terrorists' goals.
NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson compared the Bayonne monument to the Statue of Liberty, saying both were statements of spirit and unity.
To rousing response from the public, former President Clinton used the moment to call on the United States to properly conduct the war on terror.
He urged the American government to fully support efforts in Afghanistan where seeds of former problems have begun to reappear, to fully implement recommendations of the 9/11 commission - headed by former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean Jr. - and to more accurately allocate homeland security funds to reflect real dangers rather than as "political pork."
Clinton shared blame for the 9/11 attack, saying that while America had stopped attacks as potentially bad as 9/11 in the past and broken up terrorist cells, "We have not done enough."
Clinton said Tsereteli had created amazing art for some of the most significant moments in American history - such as the huge Moscow World War II monument to the allies to a very small personal artwork on the death of Clinton's mother.
In an ironic moment, Clinton appealed for the Bush Administration to increase security by putting on a concerted effort to inspect container cargo. As he was speaking, one of the huge cargo vessels began to sail out of the Global Terminal behind him, adding force to his statement as well as echo to his words.
Harbor adds to ceremony flavor
Musical performances included a rendition of "America the Beautiful" by the Jubilation Choir of Newark, the Russian National Anthem by Dina Kuznetsova, and the American national anthem by pop star LeAnn Rimes.
Rimes also did a rendition of "Amazing Grace" that was so potent that workers on one of the other ships docked at Global Terminal lined the rails of the ship to listen.
Although the evening prayer ceremony brought out less of a crowd, it brought many more local faces, as religious leaders from throughout Bayonne offered brief prayers and offered comfort and hope to a community still wounded after five years.
Led by Rev. Robert A. Pachana of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, the religious leaders offered words of condolence and hope as the sinking sun glittered off the brass covered monument and eventually left the crowd of about 200 illuminated by candlelight.
At times, bagpipes sounded, then bugles playing taps, with Bayonne High School student Christina Sullivan singing both the national anthem and God Bless America.
And after hours of ceremony, after years of struggle to get Bayonne a monument, and as weary as he was, Perrucci stood in full uniform at the corner of the stage, grinning from time to time as he looked out at the sea of glowing candles and the reflection of harbor lights on the monument he and the committee helped bring to Bayonne.
Proud of his role
Perrucci saw the monument as a great success for a committee made up of Bayonne residents, who - although no relation to any of the victims - took on the chore of finding a fitting way to preserve their memory.
All of the members knew one of the more than a dozen Bayonne victims or members of their families.
"I knew one or two," Perrucci said, sadness touching his gaze again, although his expression changed with each glance at the monument, as if he didn't quite believe it was real, or in Bayonne.
One relatively minor problem with the monument, of course, was the fact that those in charge of the sculpture used an out-of-date list of about 3,000 victims and erroneously put some names of people who did not perish. "We didn't have anything to do with that," Perrucci said. "The artist's people were in charge of that."
Doria said the issue was far less significant than if names had been left out.
"We can always remove names, but I think it would have been worse if we left someone out that should have been there," Doria said.
He added that the base was an apt location for the monument and its surrounding park because many of those fleeing the attack five years ago had come to the base seeking the protection of its bomb-proof buildings. "They came to this facility by water seeking protection," he said.
Grid lock earlier
Getting onto the former Military Ocean Terminal where the monument was located for the daytime ceremony was a logistical nightmare. Route 440 was backed up both ways from Pulaski Street in the north to 22nd Street in the south. Cars were halted just inside the security gate, where bomb-sniffing dogs circled cars and identification was checked.
Although people were not required to pass through metal detectors, nor were bags checked as they had been a year earlier when Russian President Vladimir Putin came here, those attending this year's event were required to park about a mile from the monument site and board shuttle buses for the final leg. Bags and even purses were banned, as well as cell phones and any liquids such as soda.
Federal, state, county and local police oversaw the operations.