After years of envisioning, the memorial park is now a reality. The park was the long-held dream of Bob Kelly, brother of Reeves Park resident Thomas Kelly, 38, a New York City firefighter and one of seven members of Engine 219, Ladder 105 who died on September 11 after the terrorist attacks.
On Wednesday, Kelly, along with his parents, who are both in wheelchairs, and the rest of his family gathered for the Remembrance Walk and service at the park.
Scores turned out for the somber event, from Scouts to elected officials, firefighters and friends.
Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association, began by thanking everyone who worked tirelessly to see the project to fruition.
"It really is an expression of love," he said.
Twelve years ago, he said, men and women left for work, and by the end of the day, "had become heroes."
Biegler remembered those who died in the World Trade Center buildings, the planes, those who perished in the Pentagon, the firefighters who ran into, not away from, the smoke, and those on Flight 93, whose "let's roll" attitude forever immortalized their courage in the face of evil.
"We remember those who took action 12 years ago to become heroes," he said.
At the new memorial, which features plantings, benches and a large tree, much like the "tree of life" that stands at Ground Zero, Biegler said by coming together, the community could find strength.
"We are not alone in our grief," he said.
The service was laced with prayer and Bible passages, with the sounds of bagpipes, and with poetry, as Kelly's cousin, Chris Kelly, a firefighter who was also working on 9/11, read a heartfelt tribute he'd written to his fallen hero.
"We will not be defined by the events of Sept. 11," Biegler said. "But we will be defined by our actions on September 12. We will never forget."
The Reeves Park community will have 9/11 forever etched on their hearts, Kelly said last week.
"The memorial is in honor of all we have lost and for all the families," he said.
Kelly has said that the new park will also pay tribute to the first responders who have become ill after 9/11.
The county acquistion of the 4.1 acre parcel, located at the corner of Sound Avenue and Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive/Park Road, has been a long-sought-after goal.
"There's a true sense of peace," Kelly said. "Knowing that after ten years, the right thing has been done."
A formal dedication of the park is still to come, Biegler said.