Pastor Tim Gahles, now chaplain at Fellowship Village retirement center in Basking Ridge, worked at the New York Stock Exchange in a previous life. That life was the one he was leading on Sept. 11, 2011.
Gahles described his experiences as part of an ecumenical "Community Service of Reflection and Hope," held Sunday evening at The Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge."
Erik Thomas of Basking Ridge, one of the local high school students who was a young grade schooler when the event occurred, dozen speakers at the service. The service followed a day of remembrance recognized elsewhere in various ways, including with the unveiling of a firefighters' memorial at the Liberty Corner Fire Co.'s firehouse.
Gahles, now a chaplain at Fellowship Village retirement center, talked to a quiet congregation of visitors and parishioners — representing multiple houses of workship in Basking Ridge and Bernardsville — about what it was like to be in Manhattan working at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 11, 2001. He also spoke of how he managed to leave New York, and return home. Part of his story is on a video accompanying this article.
On the other hand, Thomas admitted that he bears no emotional scars from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which he said took place when he was seven years old.
But that doesn't mean that Thomas, a Ridge High School student, feels his outlook on the world was unchanged by 9/11.
Even at a young age, he said, he became aware that, "No longer did the world appear perfectly happy."
He said he was keenly aware that world was different than it might have been without 9/11. He noted the extra security precautions that hadn't existed in previous years — even the likelihood that a friend from a different ethnic background might get stopped at Newark airport, and the question of whether that extra attention for that friend was justified or not.
Ridge student Jessica Goldsmith said that she was six and a half at the time of the 9/11 terror attacks. She said she remembers how the public school system reacted at the time.
Goldsmith added that the event was one that also brought out "neighborliness and helpfulness and caring" in the community _ "old fashioned values" even in a changed world.
Other clergy and local community leaders also spoke at the service, which also featured clergy and musicians. Rev. Dr. Grace Pak, Pastor at Bishop Janes United Methodist Church in Basking Ridge recited Psalm 46 from the Bible, while Rabbi John S. Schechter gave the closing benediction.