BELMAR/SPRING LAKE, NJ — In keeping with the nation’s annual demonstrations of solemn tribute to the victims of September 11, 2001, locally more than 400 runners, joggers, walkers and some bicyclists — with hand flags for men and stem roses for women — participated in the 18th anniversary noncompetitive 9/11 Memorial Run.

Organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC), the run was held on Wednesday evening, September 11, under warm, sunny summer skies along the Belmar-Spring Lake boardwalk.

The proceedings began at 6 p.m. with run director Tim Mahoney of Belmar thanking all for coming — and also a special few who helped him in his director’s tasks — and recognizing the many participants who were first-timers to this run.

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He then asked for a moment of silence for all service members present and past who are making and have made it possible for a memorial event such as this. Then the participants, starting with Belmar Councilman James McCracken, began reading aloud from a typed list with microphone in hand, the name, age and town of each of the 147 Monmouth County residents who died on that tragic day. Each passed the microphone and list to another, so as to get as many as possible to read aloud at least one name.

Then Mahoney, with the Stars and Stripes flagpole in hand, led the silent, nontalking pack on their southward trek. At times, spectators on the beach offered spontaneous applause for the parade of runners, as they recognized the purpose of the run.

The runners briefly stopped at the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park (also known as Memorial Park) adjacent to Lake Como that had a flagpole with the American flag at half-mast. Here the Spring Lake Police Association had donated a plaque, dedicated September 11, 2004, set in stone, with this message: "We the people of Spring Lake remember our residents and neighbors who lost their lives in terrorist attacks against the United States of America."

On the plaque are these names:

Shanksville, Pa.: Donald A. Petersen, Jean Petersen

World Trade Center: Richard E. Bosco, Thomas F. Hughes Jr., Paul H. Keating, James J. McAlary Jr., James T. Murphy, Robert W. O'Shea, Donald W. Robertson Jr.

Beginning with JSRC President Robert Galizio of Spring Lake, the mourners resumed reading aloud another third of the names from the list of 147 and about half placed their hand flags and roses at the base of the plaque.

They then continued their absolutely silent run/jog/walk/cycle on the road and boardwalk to the destination point at the Spring Lake beach gazebo across from Newark Avenue — approximately a one-mile distance. There, a piece of the World Trade Center that was donated by Eddie Lennon, a friend of Mahoney, had been placed on the sand and the mourners gathered around it. Reggie Hyde of Wall coordinated the reading of the final third names from the list.

Mahoney then offered the still very-silent group an opportunity to sound aloud any name that was not on that list who also was a victim on September 11, 2001. About 35 names were heard. The song “God Bless America” was started by Jeffrey Neilsen of Brielle and all were asked to join in. If a choirmaster would not have been impressed by the sound he/she heard, its total sincerity would have been noticed. Mahoney again thanked all for coming and asked them to give themselves a round of applause. Mahoney repeated his promise that the group would continue to meet and remember annually in Belmar, on every September 11, encouraging all to “bring a friend next year.” Had someone suggested giving Mahoney applause, many hands would be hurting from clapping.

The group then placed the remaining flags and flowers at the World Trade Center piece and “resumed” their 9/11 Memorial Run/Jog/Walk/Cycle and returned to the starting area at their own pace with talking now permitted, under magnificently lit sunset skies. Lake Como's popular restaurant Bar Anticipation was the new destination point where “light fare” had been arranged.

One participant, a "former champion racer," who has belonged to three racing clubs, has offered this meaningful comment: "I doubt if there was a more thorough display of a 9-11 remembrance anywhere in New Jersey or NewYork.”

This reporter, in addition to reflecting on the lives lost on 9/11, remembered her mentor and co-writer of this event coverage in past years — runner-writer Jim Robbins of Eatontown — a true American who is truly missed.

The memorial run’s theme as stated by Mahoney at the 6 p.m. start is to “run, remember, reflect and resume.” The word “run” is obvious since the idea was created by Mahoney and Bob Both who are JSRC members and regulars on the club's Thursday night runs in that same boardwalk area. “Remember” is why the group read the names. “Reflect” is the reason for the silence (the only sound was the noise of the 800 running shoes meeting the surface) so that there can be time to think about and concentrate on the tragedy that occurred on 9/11, including reflecting on those poor, innocent souls that had to make that horrible decision to jump to their deaths rather than burn alive. The “resume” is in response to that which President George W. Bush had asked the citizens of our beloved America to do: "Resume your lives but never forget."

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