By Natasha Brown

LOWER MAKEFIELD, Pa., (CBS) – Thursday, on the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, there will be a ceremony in the Garden of Reflection in Lower Makefield, Bucks County to honor the heroes among us.

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One of the men honored is a former New York City police officer who saved the lives of total strangers, while he lost one of the people he was closest with.

“It’s like you don’t believe it sometimes, even after all these years have passed,” Arnie Roma said.

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Arnie Roma’s recollection of Sept. 11 is as vivid on this day as it was the day the South Tower of the World Trade Center came crashing down around him.

“We heard what we thought was a train coming in, and it wasn’t unusual because it was a big train station hub, but it wasn’t a train, it was the building coming down,” Roma said. “I got thrown down and I just said to myself go to sleep, it’s over, just go to sleep. And I have to say it was the most, I’ve told people this because it’s so true and so important, it was the most peaceful feeling I’ve ever had.”

Arnie, a retired NYPD officer and first responder on Sept. 11 came out of the rubble dazed, but grateful to be alive.

His 27-year-old son Keith, a member of the New York Fire Patrol, was still trying to save lives in the North Tower when it collapsed nearly 30 minutes later.

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“I was hoping for a couple of days. There was so much confusion down there, people were wandering around. I said he might be in shock, he might be in the hospital and wasn’t able to communicate his name yet to anyone,” Roma said.

Months later Arnie returned to Ground Zero to help make the grisly discovery – recovering his son’s body from mounds of debris.

“We found him on Christmas Eve, which to us was his most favorite holiday. So he came home on Christmas Eve,” Roma said.

Arnie Roma will deliver the keynote address at this year’s Sept. 11 Memorial Service in Lower Makefield, Bucks County. His son’s name dotting the seemingly endless wall of those who lost their lives.

“I can’t miss an opportunity to just speak for the people, the policemen and the firemen, and the victims in general and it’s just something that we can’t forget. We can’t forget it,” Roma said.

The service at the Garden of Reflection will not only honor the thousands who perished on Sept. 11, but also the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice trying to save so many lives.

 

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