Russell J. Nee, of Randolph, was the honored recipient of the distinguished Golden Spike Award from the September 11 National Memorial Trail Alliance, which he received at a ceremony in Shanksville, Pa., at the site of Flight 93 crash.
Nee currently serves on the Alliance Board of Directors, working tirelessly on the project to complete 1,300-miles of trails connecting the triangular multi-module of the three national 9/11 memorials.
It begins in Washington, D.C. at the Pentagon, reaches Shanksville, the site of Flight 93 National Memorial, to New York City, at the former Twin Towers and now the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and then back to Washington, D.C. The purpose of the trail is to serve as a remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives in the single worst terrorist attack on America.
Spearheading this initiative in March 2012, Nee joined a team of 12 project leaders to develop a five-year strategic action plan to create The 9/11 National Memorial Trail. Today, Nee, with the support of the Morris County Park Commission, for which he serves as assistant superintendent of trails and special projects, continues to work towards connecting a network of trails and greenways to complete the memorial trail system.
“Great progress has been made towards the vision to establish a memorial trail to honor and remember those individuals who lost their lives on 9/11, and to also provide some comfort to their families and loved ones,’’ said Nee.
“The trail is a tangible illustration of what is strong and good about America by connecting us, not only to that infamous day of 9/11, but also to our natural resources, our history and our commitment to support all of our nation’s citizens. If you decide to take a stroll on the 9/11 Memorial Trail, think about your journey as one of hope and remembrance, honoring the resilience and perseverance we have as a nation.’’
The first trail blazes were dedicated and installed on Morris County Park Commission’s signature Patriots’ Path trail in Randolph. The trail connecting New York City to the Pentagon has been completed. The Pentagon to Flight 93 Memorial is almost done, while the Flight 93 Memorial to New York City trail is 60 percent complete.
The 9/11 National Memorial Trail is almost 50 percent off road and connects with historic and cultural points of interest, from parks to wildlife refuges and art museums. It traverses Morristown National Historical Park, Valley Forge National Park, Gettysburg National Military Park, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and at least 43 other well-known sites.
Nee received his award from 9/11 Memorial Trail Alliance President Emeritus David G. Brickley, of Woodbridge, Va., and Andy Hamilton, chairman of the board of directors. He continues to work closely with them on the completion of the project, coordinating with local stakeholders to use existing trails and establishing a co-alignment to move the trail completion forward. His current focus is on trail work around the spine of the route, particularly eastern Pennsylvania, the Delaware Water Gap region, and Liberty Water Gap trail.
As a more than 30-year veteran of the Morris County Park Commission, Nee manages, oversees and maintains150 miles of county park trails, and works with volunteers and several Boy Scout troops.
“Russ brings his passion and dedication to serve his community to everything he does, and has been a vital staff member to the Morris County Park Commission and its trails, and strives to ensure that everyone has a positive experience,” said David Helmer, executive director of the Park Commission.
Nee is a also a dedicated firefighter and has served for more than 25 years with Randolph Company #2, Millbrook.