Apologetic officials in a small New Jersey town on Wednesday rushed to remove a stone marker commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack amid an uproar about what the monument didn't include -- any reference to what happened, or the victims -- and what it did -- the names of the mayor and other local officials.
Samir Elbassiouny, mayor of Washington Township, a 6,600-resident community in northwest New Jersey's Warren County, said Wednesday he did not mean to put up a marker that looked as if it was about officials, not the victims.
He also said people who were so angry about the sign were blowing it out of proportion.
"The most important thing is for us not to take away from the intent of the event. It's truly a misunderstanding," he said. "The intent is to honor the victims of 9/11."
Elbassiouny said the memorial was a work in progress. The granite was not meant to stand alone, he said, and was put together hastily, he said -- though its words, of course, were actually etched in stone.
The mayor said the town, a little over an hour's drive west from Manhattan, applied about two months ago for a piece of steel recovered from the fallen World Trade Center.
It received a 3-foot tall, 200-pound piece of contorted steel just last Thursday.
Elbassiouny said when it became clear that the steel would arrive before the 10th anniversary of the attacks, there was a scramble to prepare it for Sunday's ceremony.
He said the granite, which cost under $2,000, was ordered along with a brass plaque to hang from the beam itself.
The stone was ready in time. The plaque wasn't.
Elbassiouny said the town will put an overlay on the offensive marker. It will take off the names of the officials and honor the victims of the attacks.