Brick By Brick: Kelly-Kaulfers Memorial Park

September 11, 2001. A beautiful sunny Tuesday morning that ended as a day seared forever into the hearts and minds of those who stood witness. The horror of that day effected not only America but the world – and even Roselle Park.

That morning John Ueltzhoeffer left his house in Roselle Park and went into work.  Robert Hepburn, former Roselle Park student who lived in Union at the time, rode the train into his office in Manhattan. Robert Kaulfers, who used to live on West Lincoln Avenue before moving to Kenilworth, put on his Port Authority Sergeant’s uniform and reported for duty.

John G. Ueltzhoeffer. Robert Allen Hepburn. Robert Michael Kaulfers.

Fathers, husbands, sons.

They lost their lives on September 11, 2001. And even though it is incomparable to the unimaginable loss their families suffered, Roselle Park lost a piece of its heart that day.

Every year after, on the anniversary of that unforgettable day, the town came together to remember, to pray, to grieve, and to honor the lives of John Ueltzhoeffer, Robert Hepburn, and Robert Kaulfers as well as the 2,974 others who died in Manhattan, at the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania. The memorials were held at Borough Hall or Michael Mauri Park where a plaque remembering John Ueltzhoeffer rests right below a piece of steel from the World Trade Center along with a clock that reads ‘Take Time To Remember September 11, 2001’.

Last year, after years of planning, the first memorial was held at the Kelly-Kaulfers Memorial Park. The park is located on Laurel Avenue between the Faitoute Fire House and the Roselle Park First Aid Squad. According to sources including town historian Pat Pagnetti, Julia Kelly Kaulfers is officer Kaulfers’ mother and her family had two (2) brothers, the Kelly brothers, were volunteer firefighters in town years ago; hence Kelly-Kaulfers Memorial Park. Although it was not fully completed, enough work was done to allow neighbors and families to come together to pay their respects.

This year, starting in July, a commitment was made to finish the Memorial Park to have it ready for the 10th anniversary of September 11th. Most of the funding and work was and is still dependent on donations and volunteers. There is an ‘Adopt-A-Brick’ project where those who donate $50 will have a brick with their message placed in the park walk (link). At the end of July, members of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 4 got together to volunteer and complete the brick work for the park. A bronze plaque, which will mark a completion of a majority of the project, will be unveiled during the ceremony.

Now, a decade later, residents, neighbors, and families will again come together at sunset on Sunday, September 11, 2011, to remember, to pray, to grieve, and to honor. This time, they will join as a community at the Kelly-Kaulfers Memorial Park.