Roselle residents remember COVID-19 victims at dedication

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ROSELLE, NJ — At a special event on Thursday, March 4, a floral, heart-shaped wreath created by Roselle resident Amanda Elisca in remembrance of the 67 residents who lost their lives to COVID-19 last year was dedicated.

“There are over 100 of these across our country today,” state Sen. Joe Cryan said on Thursday, March 4, during the event. “Today, we have the opportunity to celebrate the lives, to remember the lives, to mourn the lives and to never forget those that we’ve lost to this terrible, vicious, COVID-19 virus.”

Roselle Mayor Donald Shaw also expressed great sorrow for those residents who had lost their lives.

“It is with somber, heavy hearts that we stand here today, gathered, after one year,” Shaw said. “Within our tiny borough, we’ve lost 67 people. It weighs on us every week as we go through our COVID meetings and talk about ways to come back from this deadly virus. I’d like to say we definitely took strides as a council to enforce the limitations on social gatherings and enhancing and enforcing the wearing of the masks.

“Please say a prayer for our town, say a prayer for our loved ones,” he continued. “We’ve all lost someone who has been affected by this deadly virus. I’m from a small town called Corona, Queens, and they had to have been hit the hardest in the nation. They were literally carrying out bodies. Twelve people that I’ve grown up with passed away within a two-week span. So we know how serious this is. We don’t take it lightly.”

At the event, Shaw introduced council President Denise Wilkerson, 2nd Ward Councilman Brandon Bernier, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Cynthia Johnson, 4th Ward Councilwoman Cindy Thomas and 5th Ward Councilman John Fortuna.

Wilkerson reassured the community that the borough of Roselle is here for them.

“I want you to know that your loved ones’ deaths did not go unnoticed,” Wilkerson said. “They were a fabric of this community and we miss them. You miss them most, but I want you to know that we stand with you, and, today, we are dedicating this time and this space. We are here for you. We’re your community. We’re here to recognize their lives today. Say their names in your minds, because we’re here and we’re one community. We will do everything that we can to keep this community safe, to the best of our abilities. We’re your extended families.”

“I also grieved for the family members that were not allowed to visit their loved ones,” Johnson said. “It’s sad when someone has to die alone. when we weren’t able to hug our family members, to tell them that we love them. There’s a rainbow at the end of this. The rainbow is we’ve come together as a community.”

Roselle Office of Emergency Management coordinator Cesar Perez spoke at the event, urging the community to begin healing and to check on one another.

“It is time for us to start the healing process,” Perez said. “You can’t heal without mourning or grieving, but you need to reach out to your neighbors. Those who have lost people during the pandemic, make sure they’re OK. Talk to them, because they’re grieving. I want you to understand that we’re not only losing people because of the pandemic to COVID-19; depression is a very big thing.

“Sadly, I lost my partner’s wife to suicide because she lost her husband and couldn’t find any way to grieve. We need to reach out, and we need to talk to each other,” he continued. “This, too, shall end, and we will be OK, only if we stick together as one family and work toward a common goal. We work for a common goal every day. We try to do everything possible to bring the vaccines and help you, but you have to also be responsible throughout the community.”