The sun peaked through the gray cloud hovering over the New York City skyline Sunday just before the bells tolled at 8:46 a.m. to remember the first plane that struck the North Tower 10 years ago.
Hundreds packed the Sept. 11 memorial at Essex County's Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange for the 10th annual Essex Remembers Ceremony.
"We chose to be here at Eagle Rock in West Orange because it's our home," said Don Robertson, of South Orange, who was honoring his son, Don Jr. who died in the attacks. "We'll be here every year we can get here."
He called Eagle Rock Reservation the "premier 9/11 memorial in the state."
During the hour and a half long ceremony, the names of all 57 Essex County victims were read.
Speakers recalled that fateful Tuesday in 2001.
Essex County Executive Joseph N DiVincenzo Jr. said he went to Eagle Rock Reservation following the attacks because he knew families would gather there to peer over the New York City skyline. He led the effort to build the memorial within a year and be the first memorial to include the names of all 3,000 victims.
He vowed Eagle Rock Reservation would host a Sept. 11 ceremony ever year.
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) said 3,051 children were estimated to have lost a parent on 9/11. "My prayers are for those kids today, I want to tell them that you can count on us to protect this country," Pascrell said.
"Cuenta conmigo," he added in Spanish. (Count on me)
Other speakers included: Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, Attorney General Paula T Dow, US Attorney Paul Fishman, Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Bonnie Watson, Rep Donald Payne Sr. (D -NJ) and Newark Municipal Councilman Donald Payne Jr.
Memorial wreaths were laid at the monument and a new American flag was raised. A string quartet performed after the ceremony until 2 p.m. and will perform again from 5 to 9 p.m.
The Sept. 11 memorial opened a year after the 9/11 attacks and was built from private donations. This month, a piece of and a