CLARK, NJ - They came to remember James A. Nelson. They came to remember the 2975 others who perished that day. They came to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001. On Sunday morning, a large crowd of government officials, police, firemen, emergency service workers , boy scouts and residents joined in the Township of Clark’s annual 911 Memorial ceremony at the James A. Nelson Memorial Park on Broadway.
Nelson, a port authority police officer, is the only Clark resident to have died that day. His wife Roseanne and daughter Caitlin, who was just 5 when she lost her father, joined in the memorial service.
“They displayed such strong braveness throughout this,” Mayor Sal Bonaccorso said. “And I know we as a community wanted to be there for them in any possible way. Today we think of Jim; we think of all the people who were lost in that tragedy. We also should be thinking about the brave police, fire and EMT people who were there; who are losing their lives, prematurely, to some of the things that went airborne there.”
Survivor Ed Ruth watched the Towers come down from the corner of Broadway and Vesey Street. He worked at Marsh and McLennan, a company that lost nearly 300 employees in the attack. Ruth told of his walk, and then cab ride north. Ruth said his memories of that day are crystal clear. He took shelter in the New York Life Building until he was able to make his way home.
“I watched out the window as people from ground zero walked north like zombies, covered in white debris,” Ruth said. “I still didn’t fathom the extent of the destruction. “America changed forever. In the 15 years that have passed, lives and structures have been rebuilt, but the memories have not faded.”
Clark resident Matt Kane led the large group who had assembled for the ceremony in the singing of the National Anthem.
Caitlin Nelson said her sister, Anne, did not attend the morning ceremony as she was among the 9-11 children who would sing the National Anthem at the Sunday afternoon Jets football game. Nelson said she and her sister are close to many of the 9-11 children through their involvement in “America’s Camp,” an annual retreat designed to help the children cope with their loss.
She said the camp was a place of healing that left her and her sister with the desire to give back. The Nelson girls and other 9-11 children have worked with the survivors of the Sandy Hook School shooting as they struggle through their loss.
“It’s about positive change,” Caitlin Nelson said. “It’s about healing and helping. It’s about paying it forward.”
James A. Nelson was remembered along with all those who died on 9-11 in a luminaria commemoration at St. Bartholomew's Church in Scotch Plains on Saturday evening.
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