Set back from the bustle of North Park Drive, Camden County's Victims of Terrorism monument has stood since 2002 as a place of remembrance for South Jerseyans killed in recent terror attacks.
On Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, volunteers planted a new ring of 11 trees around the Cooper River Park monument. The trees will grow over time to stand as a living memorial to terrorism victims, and as a quiet place to reflect.
"There really are no words that can capture the sadness, the sorrow, the tragedy that was 9/11. What we can say is that this is a time for solemn remembrance," Freeholder Ed McDonnell said. "That is why this monument’s design is so perfect. It lends itself exactly to that quiet, solemn remembrance."
The memorial gives a silent reminder to families left behind that Camden County stands with them in support, McDonnell said.
"Nobody has words that can console the families that suffered to this day with the terrible grief that they experienced 11 years ago," he said. "What there is, though, is our tribute by simply being here and reminding those families that we have not forgotten, we will never forget. We will always, always think of them."
A combined effort of the Camden County Freeholder Board, Rutgers University-Camden School of Social Work, AmeriCorps Healthy Futures initiative and the New Jersey Tree Foundation made short work of the tree planting Tuesday morning. The trees, all native to the area, include sugar maple, tulip poplar, red oak, bald cypress and blackgum.
The tree are planted at the North Park Drive entrance to the monument and around the path leading up to the seven-pillared memorial.
The monument was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2002, to victims of seven terrorist attacks since the early 1980s—the U.S. Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983, the Pam Am flight 103 explosion over Scotland in 1988, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center building, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings, the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2000 U.S.S. Cole attack in Yemen and, finally, the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Sept. 11 attacks killed nine South Jerseyans, including Haddon Township's Danielle Kousoulis and Frank DeMartini of Haddon Heights.
"Don’t let today just be one day in your life when you remember 9/11. … The one thing that I would ask you to do is take some time on this day, for the rest of your life, to do something," Freeholder Ian Leonard said. "There are a lot of people who are still hurt and grieving, even 11 years later. It’s one of those things that’s never going to go away."