With prayers and song, friends and family from New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and North Dakota gathered at the Fairview Cemetery in Stanley to lay Ann Nicole Nelson to rest on what would have been her 31st birthday.
Representative Earl Pomeroy presented Annie’s parents with the American flag that was flown in Washington DC in her honor. A flag has been flown for each of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Pomeroy has come to know Ann through the memories of her friends and family since her memorial service in October. Ann individualized the loss for him and for many others. She helped him realize that rather than having lost 3,000 people in the attacks, the country lost a beautiful unique and special person 3,000 times over.
The song "Gentle Annie" by Stephen Foster was performed by Wade Enget and Gary Cole.
When Gary, Jenette and Annie’s boyfriend Eric Lockovitch, toured Ground Zero last winter, a steelworker cut a cross from one of the steel beams at the site and presented it to her parents. The cross rested on her gleaming black headstone in the cemetery Friday, surrounded by red and yellow roses and a photo of Ann with Eric.
The headstone depicts the twin towers, carved with a likeness of Ann on one side and poem from her mother on the other side. A photo of her holding Newman against the backdrop of the American flag appears above her dates of birth and death.
At the end of the bittersweet ceremony, Eric, along with Annie’s friend Suki, invited friends to scatter ashes from the WTC site at Ann’s footstone while saying goodbye.
Afterwards, family and friends celebrated Ann's birthday at the Two Way North with dinner and a birthday cake.