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."
The details of the stone, which looks like a small headstone and was installed last week, were reported in Wednesday's editions of The Express-Times of Easton, Pa.
The stone read: "Dedicated September 11, 2011. 10 Year Anniversary." That's followed by the six names of the mayor, committee members and township administrator.
It didn't sit well with some who saw it, including Dennis Ryan a 55-year-old bagpiper and retired Washington Township police officer.
"I mean, how freaking narcissistic can you be?" Ryan asked The Express-Times.
Reaction on newspaper websites was also strong. One sample on the Easton newspaper's site: "Talk about being vain! It is NOT about them! Sick Sick Sick!"
But 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 it 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.
The town - which did not lose any residents in the attacks, though the state lost about 700, didn't have time to pick a permanent place to put the display.
Still, the mayor said, there was enough there for a ceremony Sunday.
Despite his misgivings, Ryan and two other bagpipers played.
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.
Unlike the first time, he said, he'll ask the entire township committee to approve the exact language.