Witnessing the horrors of 9/11 prompted Jersey City's mayor to pursue a different path

As the 20-year mark of the 9/11 terror attacks approaches, many are reflecting on how their lives have changed since that day. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is among them.

News 12 Staff

Sep 9, 2021, 9:20 PM

Updated 949 days ago

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As the 20-year mark of the 9/11 terror attacks approaches, many are reflecting on how their lives have changed since that day. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is among them.
He watched the horror unfold in person and it forced a major change in the path he was on.
"I was a young guy out of college, and maybe 23 at the time, and just excited to be working in finance at Goldman," Fulop recalls.
On Sept 11, 2001, Fulop was working his first job out of college on Wall Street. He was two blocks away from the Twin Towers, due to attend an early morning meeting.
"We could actually feel the buildings shake. I took the PATH from Jersey City into the World Trade Center a little bit earlier than the planes struck the buildings," Fulop says. "People were kind of meandering in lower Manhattan and the ferry started taking people back to Jersey City, which I was a part of. The first building collapsed while I was actually on the ferry, so maybe 100, 200 yards out in the water there," he says while pointing out to the Hudson River.
When he got home safely to Jersey City, Fulop says the entire warfront area had turned into a triage for hundreds of people who fled lower Manhattan.
"The proximity speaks to the importance of Jersey City with unloading passengers from the ferries and acting as a triage center in those first hours after the planes hit," Fulop says.
Now Jersey City features a 9/11 memorial on which the names of the 38 Jersey City residents who were lost are etched. Part of the memorial also features steel pieces of the World Trade Center. The memorial is directly across the Hudson River from where the towers once stood.
Just days after he saw the towers fall, the first-generation American and the grandson of Holocaust survivors left his dream job in finance and enlisted in the Marines, and later become one of the first deployed to Iraq.
"9/11 was an attack on all of the belief systems that this country is based on, and I felt that I was of age and capable, and so I wanted to do more than think about what I could have done. And so, I decided to enlist. It's what fit for me at the time," Fulop says.
After serving, there was no going back to the life he'd planned on prior to 9/11. His new path became that of public service and he eventually became the mayor of Jersey City and that of a family man, married with two young children.
"I would like to instill in them the same sense of belief in this country that my parents did and my grandparents did, who were immigrants here, and I'm going to try to keep that in my children as well," he says.
Fulop says he's thankful for where he is today, a place that would have been very different had he not been where he was 20 years ago.
Jersey City will hold a 9/11 remembrance ceremony Saturday morning.
Friends and relatives of the 38 victims from Jersey City will speak at the event.


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