Newarkers paused Wednesday morning to remember the lives lost 18 years ago in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
As they have for several years, the city of Newark and the University of Delaware teamed up for a Sept. 11 ceremony at Olan Thomas Park on Cleveland Avenue, which is home to a memorial garden that was dedicated three months after 9/11. The garden includes a plaque and three trees: a sugar maple to represent the victims in New York, an American dogwood to represent the victims in Virginia (the Pentagon) and an eastern hemlock, to represent the victims in Pennsylvania.
The event was attended by public officials, ROTC cadets, a contingent of local first responders and several Newark residents. After the formal program, volunteers participated in a service project in the park.
“It’s been said that every generation has a horrific event that somewhat defines our generation,” Mayor Jerry Clifton said. “My parents had Pearl Harbor, and those that are my age had the assassination of President Kennedy, where America in both cases lost, in some respect, our innocence. And of course, this generation has the events of Sept. 11, 2001.”
In particular, Clifton honored Matthew Flocco, the Newark native who was killed in the attack at the Pentagon, where he was stationed with the Navy.
“It’s right for us to pause and remember those that sacrificed their life that day doing what was expected of them to do,” he said. “We have a tendency, I think, to forget as time goes by. It’s an honor for me to speak here to help continually remember the events of 9/11 with a day of service.”
John Long, UD’s executive vice president, was an Air Force lieutenant colonial working inside the Pentagon when the hijacked plane hit the building. During Wednesday’s ceremony, he read aloud from an article he had written a few days after the attack.
He described he and his colleagues running from the Pentagon, not sure of what had happened, as smoke filled the building.
“That day, the Pentagon, a large building by any standard, got very small,” Long said. “The tragic events caused me to step back and look at life from a fresh perspective.”