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.