Over the past five years, among grief and sorrow, politician, architects, artists, and local residents have proposed powerful ideas for memorials throughout Hudson County.
But designing, agreeing upon, and then erecting these tributes has proven a thorny process.
Should a memorial be a solemn tribute to the victims, or patriotic statement representing the fight for tolerance and peace?
Should they be small and reserved, or tower high on the waterfront?
Should they be minimalist or incorporate high art aesthetics full of symbolism and alterative meanings?
These are just some of the questions that local residents have had to grapple with has they try to define what 9/11 has meant to them.
One of the cities that has struggled most with erecting a fitting memorial has been Jersey City, the state's second largest city.
Jersey City lost 40 residents on Sept. 11, 2006, but poor communication accompanied by heated debates has led to a series of well-publicized controversies.
Jersey City was originally tabbed to receive a free memorial from Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, a resident of Russia, called "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism."
The 10-story monument stands approximately 100 feet tall from a granite base, and is 21 feet wide and 10 feet thick. Contained within the statue is a glass tear made of nickel-plated metal that weighs approximately four tons and measures approximately 40 feet high.
Engraved on the monument are the names of everyone who died in the 2001 attacks, and those who died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
But this memorial was met with some resistance in Jersey City. A number of residents spoke out at community meetings and City Council meetings objecting to the fact that the monument negated the city-commissioned open submission process for a memorial.
Also, some complained about the sculpture's tall design.
Besides, in 2002, the Jersey City 9/11 Memorial Committee had chosen a work by Cincinnati-based artist Voss Finn, one of the 63 submissions. In a fit of indecisiveness, the Jersey City council first voted to accept the Tsereteli monument as a gift in 2003, but then two years later in 2005, decided not to take the teardrop memorial.
By this time it was too late to build the Finn monument in Jersey City. And the teardrop went to neighboring Bayonne.
On Monday, Bayonne will dedicate "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" at the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, the former Military Ocean Terminal, at 2:30 p.m.
The program will include representatives of victims' families from both the 1993 and 2001 incidents. Political officials from the United States and the Russian Federation will also attend.
Mayor Joseph Doria will serve as the master of ceremonies and Gov. Jon S. Corzine will speak.
Even the small monument had problems
When Jersey City gave up the Tsereteli structure, it was left with a small 6-by-8-foot 6,000-plus pound granite memorial that it had erected soon after the tragedy. That small memorial is located at the foot of Grand Street. But even this was recently was the center of a minor controversy.
A couple of weeks ago, city officials removed that memorial to fix a number of misspelled names. But several members of the 9/11 Memorial Committee of Jersey City said they were not informed in advance that it would be removed, and one filed theft charges with the police. The charges were later dropped.
New Jersey's statewide monument
Also, Jersey City will become home to a statewide memorial for the more than 700 New Jersey residents who died in the attacks.
However, recently, about 250 people attended a public hearing in Liberty State Park because the structure will block coveted views of lower Manhattan from the park.
The memorial, titled "Empty Sky," will be made up of two 30-foot high and 200-foot long stainless steel walls on a grassy knoll. A jury of 9/11 victims' family members chose it in 2004 out of 320 entries submitted as part of the New Jersey Memorial Design Competition initiated by former Gov. James McGreevey.
The nearly $12 million memorial has met with opposition because the 10-foot high knoll portion already on the memorial site blocks the Manhattan skyline. The site is located close to the Hudson River near the ferries that transport park visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
It is unknown whether the location will be changed.
Moving slowly in Hoboken
While there hasn't been controversy in Hoboken over its memorial's design, the process has moved slowly.
Hoboken lost more than 50 residents in the attacks.
In 2004, a committee made up of local residents, artists and family members of the victims officially selected the design concept for a permanent Hoboken memorial.
The memorial for Pier A Park on the south waterfront will be called "Hoboken Island." The concept was designed by a firm called the FLOW Group, which brings together five award-winning professionals from art, architecture, engineering and lighting design.
FLOW has proposed a freestanding island that juts off the northwest corner of Pier A. The island will be connected to the pier by a "narrative wall" and a footbridge, according to officials from the 9/11 Memorial Fund.
The wall will be inscribed with first-person accounts of Sept. 11, including the experiences of Hoboken observers, volunteers, medical triage personnel, and family members. The words of victims will also appear. In the middle of the island, the designers will put a "tidal well," or a hole in the island through which people can look at the river.
But because the island will have to be built out over the water, they have had to apply to the Army Corp of Engineers.
According to Hoboken city officials, the Corp of Engineers has just recently approved Hoboken's application and Mayor David Roberts hopes the construction can begin in the next year.
In 2004, the Memorial Fund committee received a $500,000 state grant, but more money will have to be raised before the project is fully funded. The Hoboken Memorial Fund committee is still accepting donations.
Smaller Hoboken memorials
While Hoboken waits for its permanent 9/11 memorial, the city has completed two smaller ones.
In 2003, the city dedicated the Living Memorial Tree Grove, which was planted at the entrance to Pier A Park. The memorial grove will be comprised of 52 gingko trees.
Also, in 2002, the city dedicated a temporary memorial, which featured Plexiglas in the shape of a flame at Pier A Park. The movable monument has names of the Hoboken victims etched in the Plexiglas.
North Bergen has chosen a simple but powerful memorial. A plaque in front of North Bergen High School honors three NBHS graduates killed in last year's terrorist attacks.
The plaque, funded by the North Bergen Board of Education, reads, "In the memory of the North Bergen High School graduates who perished in the line of duty at the World Trade Center."
The names are: Christopher Amoroso, Class of '90, Robert Cirri, Class of '80, and Sal Edward Tieri, Class of '78.
There are also victims who didn't graduate from NBHS but lived in North Bergen. They are Mark Motroni, Lizette Mendoza, and Port Authority Police Office David LeMagne, to whom an EMS building in Union City was dedicated in 2002.
Every year, including this year, the city holds a 9/11 memorial service in front of the memorial. (See related story on events around the county.)
In Union City, a memorial is located next to the Doric Temple in Doric Park on Palisade Avenue.
In the center of the park, a sculpture and plaque were mounted to commemorate all the victims of Sept. 11.
West New York
In West New York, a fountain at the park located on 60th Street and Boulevard East has been dedicated to the three West New York residents who lost their lives in the towers. A plaque has been mounted on the fountain with the names of these victims.
The Secaucus 9/11 memorial is adjacent to the Secaucus Library t 1379 Paterson Plank Road.
One of the more interesting features of the memorial are the four stones inlayed into the path that approaches a flagpole. The stones mark the times when the planes struck both World Trade towers, the Pentagon, and crashed in Pennsylvania.
There is also a marble wall with the names of the Secaucus residents who died in the attacks. Their names are Arlene Babakitis, Richard Cudina, Nancy Perez, Kenneth Simon, Steven Strobert, and Michael Tanner.
There is also a piece of the world trade center there.
Mayor Richard Turner announced last week that the township has found a permanent spot for the township's memorial to the 9/11 victims. The memorial will be placed in the township's new recreational park that is currently under construction and should be completed by next year.
Ricardo Kaulessar, Jim Hague and Jessica Rosero contributed to this story. Tom Jennemann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. THE RETURN - Jersey City has a small granite memorial to the Sept. 11, 2001 victims, which was recently repaired and returned. The city will also see a large statewide memorial at Liberty State Park. Photo by David Cruz. IN NORTH BERGEN - A stone outside North Bergen High School honors the three graduates who perished on 9/11. HOBOKEN ISLAND - At some point in the next year, Hoboken will begin construction on its permanent 9/11 memorial. NEW IN BAYONNE - The Zurab Tsereteli teardrop memorial will be dedicated at a ceremony on the Bayonne waterfront on Monday. Several dignitaries will attend.