Hope Rising 9/11 Bronze Monument Unveiling

Yesterday I had the opportunity/privilege to go to the unveiling of a sculpture called Hope Rising – To Lift a Nation which is modeled after the famous  photo in this post. The location of this heroic – sized (9 ft.) bronze monument? Sandy, Utah.  The sculptor is world-renowned Stan Watts who was granted permission to do so – even to the point of the permission of the firefighters in the photo.

This monument stands at the head of the original Healing Field near Sandy City Hall. http://www.healingfield.org/

The Healing Field contains an American flag for each of the victims of 9/11.  A section for each of the following:  Flight 93, Flight 77, Pentagon, Flight 175 and Flight 11 as well as all those in the World Trade Center. Each flag has a card with a card on it with the name of the victim and some personal information about each one.

Of course there were speeches by local politicians, US Air Force, fire officials – including one who spent time at Ground Zero assisting with the clean up and other notables. Frank Layden, former Utah Jazz coach, general manager and president who was raised in Brooklyn. Former NBA player Thurl “Big T” Bailey among others. Just prior to the unveiling 3000 white balloons were released into a beautiful blue September sky. Overhead an eagle circled. A Life Flight helicopter, swooped over the crowd, paused over the field of flags and dipped its nose in salute.

There was a “Fire Ride” for local Harley riders – there were over 1000 bikers from Sandy to Ogden for the unveiling of another monument that will one day become the centerpiece of a larger America’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial that will include the names of firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. From stock Honda Gold Wings to custom choppers and everything in between. I spoke to a guy – a retired Provo Fire Department Captain, who had a gorgeous Harley Davidson Firefighter edition that he had added some custom touches to. Flames (“real fire flames”), a mural on the back of the saddlebags that depicted a firefighter holding a hose on the left bag and on the right in full fire gear walking away with “Jolley” and PFD on his fire coat on the right bag. The saddlebags also had faint American flags on the sides of the saddlebags.  He had also added a plate on the tank that had all 343 firefighters names that perished that day. I am sure I am missing some things, but that isn’t the point.

The point is, the diversity that was present there. The stage was provided by Lehi City, fire trucks from North Tooele County, Salt Lake City, Sandy, Murray, West Valley City, among others.  People from all walks of life.  One thing I noticed is that many of these bikers were combat veterans. One had a patch identifying him as a member of the 82nd Airborne.

It was an honor to be able to participate in this event.  If you live in the area, I encourage you to pay a visit to the monument.  And if you aren’t and have an opportunity to visit the Salt Lake City area, take time to visit the monument. It is a short drive south of downtown.


What were you doing the morning the Towers came down?

I imagine many of us do remember what we were doing that fateful morning ten years ago Sunday. (It happened on a Tuesday though)

The families and friends of the fallen so much more so than the rest of us. While I didn’t personally know anyone who died in the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that day, I had a couple of co-workers (two brothers and their mother) at the time lose a family member to the attack on the Pentagon. His name is Brady Howell and he worked for the Director of Naval Intelligence where he was a management intern.  I mention this partly because my memories surrounding that time include him.

I know what I was doing.

Three days earlier (September 8, 2001) I had just run my third half marathon in five weeks as part of my training for the St. George (UT) Marathon on October 6th.  The race on the 8th was run in 1:54:12 – the second fastest of the three. On the morning of September 11, I had ten miles planned including 10 800 meter intervals with rest intervals at about 3:30 on the Jordan High School track near my home. Ran to the track as a warm up (about 1.5 miles), did my workout averaging 3:58 for all 10, then ran home. It was about 60 Fahrenheit that morning here in Salt Lake City.

I got home from my run and was in the bedroom changing (this was about 6:45 am MT/8:45 am ET) and the morning news was on when I saw video of the first plane hitting the tower. My wife was in the bathroom and I recall saying to her “come here, you have to see this. A plane just hit the World Trade Center in New York” or something to that effect.  According to Wikipedia the timeline for the second tower being hit was just after 9:00 am ET and the Pentagon about 30 minutes or so after that. Those images are as vivid today as they were ten years ago.  Of course at the office there was a lot of talk about it and the images of people huddled around a television or similar type gatherings for much of the day.

After a while, I had to force myself to not look  at the media reports as I had deadlines to meet. I know that sounds a little cold, but I still had to meet those deadlines. At the time I worked for a network marketing company in the tax department and I had sales tax returns due and only had a few days left to complete everything and get them sent off in time so penalties were not incurred.

What I found to be very eerie was how quiet things became after the President/FAA grounded all flights.

I run very early in the morning, so it was really noticeable –not only the sounds but the lack of landing lights. All the flags at half-staff. At the end of a run that first Saturday I ran through a park near my home and noticed – really noticed all the families in the park. It seemed like more families were out that day for some reason.  Another unique thing I experienced that year was at the marathon. It was my third marathon, but first St. George. Just the atmosphere seemed different. I hadn’t been a runner for very long- about two years, but had been going to the marathon for several years as a spectator. I knew it was related to 9/11 but couldn’t really put a finger on why it was different beyond that.

At the race expo the day before the race, a local radio station who was a race sponsor was doing a promotion where they had labels that looked like American flags on them with the names of those who lost their lives that day on them and where. By some stroke of luck I got the one which had the name Brady Howell  and PENTAGON on it. (If I recall correctly they were accepting small donations which would go to some fund or other).  Race morning included a moment of silence for the fallen as well as the national anthem prior to the start. Members of the US Military manning aid stations, runners carrying flags for 26.2 miles.  Very different from previous marathons I had run. I gave copies of my race bib which had the sticker with Brady’s name on it to my co-workers – including one for his widow. I put information about the race on the face of the bib and keep them in a binder so I kept the original. If the name and date of the race is already on it – I don’t worry about it. In this case it had race name, no date. So I wrote in the lower left hand corner: Oct. 6, 2001 4:11:12 New PR! This event served as a bookend in many ways to what began on September 8, 2001.

Let’s all remember those who died that day and keep them in our hearts and minds.

Thanks for reading.