Grand Junction’s Downtown 9/11 Memorial – A Brief History
As we take time to reflect on the 11th anniversary of the horrific events of September 11, 2001, there is a special place in Grand Junction on the southwest corner of 7th and Main dedicated to that day. Many people walk by unaware of its meaning and relationship to the terrorist attacks. On this special day of remembrance, let me share a brief history and explanation of the meaning of the memorial sculpture.
The concept for a 9/11 memorial started shortly after the attacks, but it wasn’t until 2002 leading up to the first anniversary that the idea really took hold. Initial fundraising took place in 2002, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the memorial was actually unveiled. During that time, some matching money was secured and a location for the memorial sculpture was determined during the planning and reconstruction of 7th and Main Streets. Pat Olson is the artist who was commissioned to design and construct the memorial sculpture.
To truly appreciate the memorial sculpture, it is important to know what each part of the sculpture represents.
The green vertical pieces pay tribute to the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 who heroically tried to regain control of the highjacked airplane. That plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The center of the sculpture represents the first responders climbing the stairs rescuing people trapped in the New York World Trade Center after American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the towers.
To many, the blue vertical above represents hope, freedom and a better future. The five sided stone bench and pedestal is in memory of those who perished when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
On September 11, 2009 when the sculpture was unveiled, there was a place for a piece of the World Trade Center, but the piece did not arrive in time for the unveiling. That piece, mounted separately from the rest of the sculpture, is a reminder of the massive destruction that took place on that day.
Take some time to see the memorial sculpture and remember, reflect and pay tribute to that day and the greatness that has risen from it.