By Mr. Eric Kowal (RDECOM)September 24, 2010
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The timing could not have been more fitting.
Just two days after the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, local elected officials, business owners and military personnel gathered at the Parsippany Sheraton Hotel Sept. 13 for a Morris County Chamber of Commerce luncheon where the 2010 Army Community Covenant was signed.
Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, spoke about the reconstruction phase currently under way at what has been called ground zero.
A former New Jersey State Senator, Baroni assumed his current position March 1 and vowed to meet every deadline the Port Authority sets for construction activity at the site where the old Twin Towers once stood.
"The 9/11 memorial will open on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, on Sept. 11, 2011, less than a year away," Baroni said "This is a sacred mission that we will fulfill. This is not a project for ten years. It is a project for 1,000 years."
Baroni said that World Trade Center Tower One, which is currently under construction, is the strongest physically structured building to have ever been erected.
More than 3,000 people perished on the day of the 9/11 attacks. Since that day, thousands of our service members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, some on more than one occasion.
Because of the hardships that service members may face when deployed, the need for community support continues to grow.
A formal document known as a community covenant is signed Army-wide by community based leaders, business owners, and supporters promising to lend a helping hand.
Picatinny's Garrison Commander, Lt. Col. Herb Koehler, introduced each of the signers of the covenant that vowed to serve local service members and their families both in their time of need, such as in a deployment, and when they are back on the home front in New Jersey.
"The Army Community Covenant is a formal commitment of support by state and local officials to Soldiers and Family Members," Koehler said.
The Morris County Business Pledge was signed on Dec. 7, 2007, before the Army implemented what would later become known as the Army Community Covenant. Picatinny's version of the covenant supports all branches of the military, not just the Army, Koehler said.
"We host all four services around our installation, therefore it is fitting that our covenant serve all regardless of which uniform they wear," he said.
Richard Eastman, retired Lt. Col. and current assistant to New Jersey's civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, helped to bring the pledge to fruition by stressing to the community the importance of supporting military personnel. Since that time, there have been more than 70 signatories on Picatinny covenant-with room to grow, Koehler said.
Brig. James G. Grant, Chief of the Joint Staff who represented Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, Adjutant General for New Jersey, thanked the audience by saying "on behalf of all citizen Soldiers, without your support, we could not do what we do."
Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, Picatinny's Commanding General and Program Executive Officer for Ammunition, said that support is a continuous circle. "Soldiers draw strength from their families, families rely on the community, and the Army and the nation rely on the strength of its Soldiers and that is what makes us 'Army Strong'."
"On behalf of all service members in Morris County we give you a big HOOAH," Maddux said enthusiastically.
The event was hosted by XCEL Federal Credit Union, which was founded in 1964 by the employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Tom Quigley, business development executive for the credit union worked at Picatinny Arsenal Federal Credit Union on the installation for more than 15 years.
Quigley repeated a quote by Leon Moreau III, current director of Picatinny's Family Morale, Welfare, and Recreation division in describing the military's role in our society.
"One percent of people protect 99 percent of people," Quigley said.