From memorials to mementos, a need to touch 9/11
Whether building a tower to the sky or putting ink to skin, people look for ways to connect with the day of tragedy.
Ken Senter, a history teacher at Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tenn., displays a five-foot beam from the World Trade Center outside of the school. the school is having a memorial sculpted from the piece.
September 1, 2002
History teacher Ken Senter has a plan to capture the horror of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for his students in Tennessee. He'll take them outside.
Two beams salvaged from the ruins of the World Trade Center -- battered hunks of steel he received after lobbying New York officials for nearly a year -- will be shaped into a memorial in front of Oak Ridge High School. Every year, his students will file by for a hands-on history lesson.
"I just felt in my heart that if I could tell my kids, "This is from ground zero, people died next to this beam,' . . . it will retain the reality of that experience longer," Senter said.
Communities across the nation responded with an outpouring of generosity and grief after last September's attacks: There were candlelight vigils, flags flying, blood donations, hundreds of millions of dollars poured into charities.
A year later, America has turned to commemorating the tragedy in concrete and steel, in words and fabric, in churches, museums, and even tattoo parlors.
There are scholarships and songs, quilts and paintings, exhibits and displays, videos and tens of thousands of Web sites. There are public memorials that will scrape the sky and private mementos already buried in the earth.
New York City Fire Lt. Gary Lustig displays his Sept. 11 tribute tattoo at a Staten Island tattoo shop.
"There's a desperate need for people to be connected," said Nick Carpasso, an art historian in Massachusetts and expert on public memorials.
And having an artifact brings the tragedy home, said Mark Schaming, director of exhibitions at the New York State Museum.
"It's human nature to have a touchstone and be closer to a historical event," he said. "The further away you are, the greater the need for it."
A different kind of memorial is emerging in a Pennsylvania field six miles from the spot where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after its passengers apparently thwarted their hijackers.
The Rev. Al Mascherino spent $18,000 to buy a vacant church and plans to have non-denominational services on the 11th of each month.
"Of all the messages of those who perished that day, theirs was the clearest," Mascherino said of the passengers. "It really was a declaration of independence. They were able to rise up and defeat their oppressors."
Not all memorials are meant to be seen.
In Ridgewood, N.J., a New York suburb, families of 12 victims buried a vault containing photos, baseball caps and other remembrances from their loved ones. Those who died left behind 24 school-age children.
In Washington, D.C., a bronze capsule filled with mementos from the attack on the Pentagon, along with victims' names, was placed behind a slab of blackened limestone.
Some have commemorated Sept. 11 in a way America has traditionally honored presidents and famous people: renaming streets, schools, buildings, athletic fields, ferry boats.
A New Jersey post office has been named for Todd Beamer, the Flight 93 passenger whose simple exhortation, "Let's roll," became a rallying cry against terrorism. And there's a Jason Dahl school in California, honoring one of the pilots of that flight.
The heroics of the firefighters also live on.
In Las Vegas, a fence outside the New York New York Hotel displays more than 1,000 T-shirts from fire departments worldwide and plans are under way for a permanent memorial. In Watertown, S.D., New York firefighters are saluted with a mural painted by high school art students.
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