Kitsap 9-11 Memorial Dedication September 11, 2013 By Dave Fergus Rice Fergus Miller Architecture & Planning At 7:59 A.M.
on September 11th, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 departed Boston, bound for Los Angeles. The sun was bright; the sky brilliant blue. On the horizon stood the World Trade Center towers, proudly reflecting the morning’s early light. Twenty-one minutes into their routine flight everything suddenly changed. Using a phone in the rear of the plane, flight attendant Amy Sweeney calmly reported to authorities that two flight attendants were seriously hurt and a passenger had been murdered. They were flying erratically and the cockpit wasn’t answering her calls. And, they were low – way too low. Peering out the small windows Amy could see the Hudson River and then the Twin Towers. Suddenly realizing the hijacker’s objective, Amy’s final words were, “Oh my God.” The call ended abruptly when American Airlines Flight 11 sliced through the North Tower at 8:46 A.M. 9-11 is a story about people – a story about those who survived and those who perished. It is a story of life and death, triumph and defeat. It is a story of humility, courage, and the unselfish pursuits to save someone else. When we say, “We shall not forget”, this is what we must not forget. To help us to remember, stories, like that of flight attendant Amy Sweeney, have been permanently etched in granite tiles that encircle the Kitsap 9-11 Memorial. These granite stories tell us of the people who were there, their fate, their circumstance, and the power within them. They are stories of human toil and sacrifice. They are stories that teach us about humanity so that we may become better human beings ourselves. It was at 8:57 A.M. when Peter Hanson dialed his father. “It’s getting bad, Dad. They seem to have knives and mace. They said they have a bomb. Passengers are throwing up and getting sick. The plane is making jerky movements.” Lee Hanson reluctantly hung up the phone with his son, Peter. He had a bad feeling. Lee turned to his television and watched in silence as United Airlines Flight 175 slowly banked over Manhattan and vanished in a fiery explosion against the side of the South Tower. The time was 9:03 A.M. September 11th was recorded in minute by minute detail by cell phone calls, air traffic communications, dispatch recordings, and live news that was broadcast around the world. We know the minute each tower was struck and the minute each fell. We know the minute each plane left the ground and the minute when the FAA ordered every plane over America to immediately land. The granite story tiles that encircle the memorial are laid in concentric rings that chronicle the events like a giant clock. Due North is the top of the hour; South, half past the hour; East and West the quarter hours. With tragic events happening simultaneously in the air and on the ground, independent yet intertwined, this giant clock helps us understand the gravity of when and where events were unfolding simultaneously in seven different locations, minute by minute. On the 84th floor of the South Tower, the floor raised and buckled, ceilings collapsed, furniture tumbled recklessly, and doors flew from their openings like sheets of paper in the wind. Finding a stairway, a small group headed down, but they were met by a distraught couple
declaring the stairway was hopelessly blocked. Reversing course, they started skyward when Brian Clark and Ron DiFrancesco heard a distant voice pleading for help. Brian and Ron found Stanley Praimnath and managed to get him to the stairway. Ron headed upward to find the others. Brain headed downward with Stanley, despite the earlier warnings. Brain and Stanley would ultimately survive the day’s tragedies. Had Brain not heard Stanley’s cries for help, he surely would have headed skyward with his co-workers who were never seen or heard from again. The concrete path leading to the memorial is circuitous. It turns to the right, turns to the left, and turns again to the right. It rises with the grade, falls, and rises again. The path reflects much of what was happening on September 11th; like Brian Clark and many others in the World Trade Center towers who were trying to find their pathway to safety; like four aircraft bound for one destination and ruthlessly redirected to another; and like the emotions of a million Americans, rising and falling, from hope to despair, from anger toward the assailants to admiration for the heroes. September 11th was indeed a day of circuitous circumstances. By 9:32 A.M., hijackers were in full control of Flight 93. Cell phones and airphones were buzzing. Passengers were sharing with each other what they knew about the catastrophes in New York and Washington D.C. From aisle 11, Jeremy Glick asked his wife if she thought they should attack the hijackers. From aisle 4, Tom Burnett called his wife and assured her, “Don’t worry. A group of us are going to do something.” Many on board Flight 93 were concluding that their best chance was to fight these people. The passengers assembled. True to our American ideals of democracy, they took a vote. Consensus was reached. They would find a way to defeat these terrorists and retake their plane. Their fate would rest in their hands, not the terrorist’s. Democracy – it is this ideal that lies at the foundation of this country. It was our democracy that was attacked on September 11th, and it was our democracy that brought the passengers aboard Flight 93 to fight back against their assailants. America is the greatest nation on earth. Our flag will forever fly over this memorial where it will stand tall to those ideals that this great nation was built upon. Standing beneath these beams, facing the flag, you will be looking due east. From this Washington to the other Washington, we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, justice, and freedom for all. Lieutenant Ted Anderson and Staff Sargeant Christopher Braman drug two motionless women away from the Pentagon. They broke away shards of glass from blown-out windows, squeezed through, and called out for survivors as they blindly crawled along a smoke filled hallway. Finding Sheila Mooney incapacitated, they drug her to an exit. Reentering, they met a man engulfed in flames, screaming, and pleading to save the group behind him. Ted and Christopher drug him outside too. For their third entry, Christopher would hold onto Ted’s ankles so they wouldn’t become separated, but they were stopped by firefighters. They had neither adequate equipment, nor training. Ted was incredulous. He exclaimed a soldier never leaves another soldier behind. As a portion of the Pentagon collapsed around the impact area, Ted would have to admit that the firefighters had undoubtedly saved his life. Permanently cast into one of the concrete sitting walls is a 400 pound piece of limestone that fell from the façade of the Pentagon when a portion of that structure collapsed. Clearly, it
reminds us of the destruction that occurred at the Pentagon. It also symbolizes the strength of our military might. We salute the men and women of our military who day-in and day-out unselfishly protect our freedoms; individuals who put their lives on the line for us; individuals who are routinely in harm’s way; and individuals who make it possible for you and me to enjoy the liberties and justices that were attacked on September 11th. It was shortly before ten o’clock when Ed Emory was standing on a table stuffing his new jacket in a vent to keep the smoke out. An hour earlier, Ed had escorted several of his employees down to the 78th floor sky lobby. He had told Anne Foodim, “If you can finish chemo you can make it down these steps.” He had given Elsie Castellanos a gentle hug and told them both, “Go home. Everything’s going to be fine.” Returning to the 97th floor, Ed would find the others who were waiting, escort them to the sky lobby too, then leave the building himself. However, fires now raged on the floors below, and the hallway outside Ed’s conference room was deathly thick with smoke. Flight 175 severed the exit stairways of the South Tower below Ed’s floor. For Ed and those with him, they were left only to their prayers. They called their loved ones, consoled each other, and patiently waited for a miracle that would never come. 9-11 is a story of fate; of happenstance; of being in the right place at the right time, and the wrong place at the wrong time. One could say it was happenstance that this memorial ended up here in Evergreen Rotary Park. By happenstance, many will stumble across it in the years ahead. When you visit this memorial you may find yourself contemplating the happenstance of your own fate and circumstance. When you do, and you are here overlooking the Port Washington Narrows, imagine Ed Emory overlooking the skyline of New York City from his 97th floor window, who was undoubtedly contemplating the happenstance of his fate and circumstance. Chaplain Mychal Judge. He was an FDNY institution. He had married members of the department, baptized their children, and shared many long talks over troubled circumstances. On September 11th he was with the fire department chief officers. When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 A.M., they were driven from their command post in the lobby of the North Tower. Finding a fallen firefighter, Father Mychal removed his helmet and knelt beside him. While performing his last rites, Father Mychal was struck in the head by a piece of falling debris and died instantly. Mychal Judge was one of 343 members of the New York City Fire Department who perished that day. His story was aptly expressed later by a firefighter who simply said, “I think God wanted somebody to lead the guys to heaven.” The Kitsap 9-11 Memorial is intended not simply to be viewed, but to be experienced. It’s intentional that you can meander through the grove of trees. It’s intentional that you’ll walk in circles, eyes lowered, as you read the granite stories. It’s intentional that you can pass beneath the leaning steel beams and feel their weight overhead. And in the same way Father Mychal knelt down and touched the forehead of a fallen firefighter, you may touch the steel beams. You can feel their coldness and you can feel their strength. Through touch we are connected to those who were there, and those who have been touched by the events. Through touch we are connected and we are all united.
After Todd Beamer and airphone operator Lisa Jefferson had shared the Lord’s Prayer, she heard, “Are you ready?” and Todd’s reply, “Okay, let’s roll.” Suddenly, the passenger assault was in motion. Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw quickly ended her call with, “Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go.” The passengers attacked the cockpit door with a rolling beverage cart. The pilot rolled the plane steeply to throw his attackers off balance, but the passengers were undeterred. The hijackers pitched the plane’s nose violently up and down. The passengers continued. The pilot pressed the nose down hard again. Dipping to the right, Flight 93 rolled on its back as it struck the ground nose first into an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. These horrific events of September 11th were carried out by commandeering four fateful flights. Jetliners, full of explosive fuel, were an unprecedented weapon. It was the pilots, flight attendants and passengers who were some of the first innocent victims. Their fate was wholly contained in a speeding metal tube that was only 16 feet in diameter. This happens to be the same diameter of the innermost ring of granite stories in the memorial. Additionally, recessed in the center of the memorial are seven granite squares that are of the same size and spacing as a row of seats in a Boeing 767. We honor those who were aboard these four flights, grieve their loss, and pay special tribute to those aboard Flight 93 who heroically took control and averted additional carnage at the hands of these radical terrorists. Ed Beyea and Abe Zelmanowitz had worked in side-by-side cubicles in the North Tower for 12 years. Ed was a quadriplegic and had only made it as far as the stairway in his motorized wheelchair. Abe quickly recognized that navigating 27 flights of stairs would be a daunting task for Ed. So, Abe waited with his friend at the stairway. “Don’t worry,” Abe would say, “The firemen will come and help us go down.” When firefighters did arrive, they were intent on reaching the fires above. Firefighters would ask Abe, “Why don’t you go?” Abe always replied, “No, I’m staying with my friend.” Many fleeing individuals would later recall this large man patiently waiting in a wheelchair with his friend. When the order came for the firefighters to evacuate the North Tower, it is unlikely that Ed was far below the 27th floor. But there is no doubt that Abe, his unwavering friend, was by his side to the very end. On September 11th, 2001, nearly 3000 innocent lives were lost. In their honor, thirty ginkgo trees surround the memorial, each representing roughly one hundred individuals who perished that day. Ginkgos are one of the oldest trees on earth, evidenced by fossils more than 270 million years old. Consequently, Ginkgos are symbolic of longevity and resilience. In the 11th century, Chinese monks surrounded their temples with Ginkgos because they were thought to be fire resistant. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, ginkgos were among the few living things to survive the blast, and continue to live today. Honoring those who perished that day, these Ginkgo trees have been planted in tight straight rows in the same manner as the stark white crosses that line the landscape at Arlington Cemetery. Shirley Allen, Director at the Children’s World Learning Center, had a single purpose on the morning of September 11th – the safety of 140 young children under her care. When Flight 77 struck the Pentagon, Shirley and her staff performed their emergency duties as they had religiously practiced. To the children, it was an exciting adventure bumping along in rolling cribs through parking lots and over rough ground. Remarkably, these young individuals were calm throughout the chaos. Credit was owed to the teachers whose faces conveyed only calm
back to the children. Over the next several hours, parents and children would be reunited. The exception would be for two young children who tragically lost a parent at the Pentagon that day. In 2010, Leadership Kitsap Team Serendipitous developed a curriculum for what it means to be a hero. They taught their program in one fifth grade class in each of the school districts in Kitsap County. The curriculum concluded with the children painting six-by-six ceramic tiles that have now been permanently installed in the concrete walls of this memorial. Fifth graders were chosen because they would have been born the same year as 9-11. These tiles are symbolic of our next generation of heroes. They are our future. If we teach our children today what it means to be a hero using the actions of others from yesterday, they will be the heroes of tomorrow without question. Firefighter Greg Hansson was on the 35th floor of the North tower when he received the directive to evacuate. Turning to his men he ordered them to drop their gear and get out. On the way down they encountered a large man who had become overwhelmed and unable to walk. Greg sent his men on and joined the struggle to save him. Someone found a chair and a belt, and strapped him in. It was painful and useless. Finally they just drug him by his legs down the stairs. They had to keep moving. The building was not stable. At the mezzanine, they headed across the plaza. Firefighter John D’Allara went first. Looking up, he watched for falling bodies and fluttering sheets of metal. When clear, the group ran with the man locked in their arms. As they entered the safety of an adjacent building, the North Tower came crumbling apart in a violent storm at 10:28 A.M. At the center of the memorial are two steel beams that had plummeted to the ground in the crashing and crumbling of the twin towers. They are aligned north and south, and positioned in relation to each other in the same way the north tower and south tower were to one another. When viewed from the east or the west, they lean inward, form an arch, and remind us of Ground Zero. But when viewed from the north or the south, they are straight and erect as they were before 9-11. Importantly, they stand proudly upright. They are our symbol of resilience. A blow we may take, but we will endure. In the face of adversity, we will rise and overcome our obstacles. We will forever fight for our lives and for our freedoms. As some of you may know, the journey to build this memorial began nearly four years ago. It has been an effort of resilience and perseverance in its own right. We have at times been knocked to the ground, and it’s certainly been a circuitous path to get here today. For each of us on the committee, this project has stirred a certain self reflection, a deeper understanding of humility, and a sincere appreciation for life, love, and purpose. Through our struggles our committee unofficially adopted a theme song. The words are special to us and go like this: Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day? Were you in the yard with your wife and children Or working on some stage in L.A.? Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke Risin' against that blue sky? Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor Or did you just sit down and cry?
Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones And pray for the ones who don't know? Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble And sob for the ones left below? Did you burst out with pride for the red, white and blue And the heroes who died just doin' what they do? Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer And look at yourself and what really matters? Thank you for sharing this day with us, for remembering those who perished that day, and those who carry on with the burdens of 9-11 still weighing on their shoulders. Please enjoy the memorial today and always remember to share a hug with someone who really matters. Thank you.