Remembered on 9-11 Anniversary
Stephen E. Mather
A bench at the memorial. (Newsline photo by Stephen E. Mather)
Thursday, Sept. 11, 2003; link added Sept. 12, 2003
ROCKVILLE, Md. - The 11 Montgomery County residents killed in the terrorist attacks
two years ago were remembered today with the dedication of a memorial that family
members hope will keep the memory of their loved ones alive.
"It's a peaceful, tranquil place that people can come to and reflect," said
Potomac resident Christine Fisher. Fisher's husband, Gerald, known as "Geep"
to his family and friends, died while meeting with Pentagon officials and
colleagues on the morning of the attack.
The memorial in Courthouse Square Park in downtown Rockville features 11
benches, one for each of the victims, around a grassy, tree-lined ellipse. The benches are engraved
with the victims’ signatures and quotations selected by
the victims' families.
With the help of her stepdaughter, Fisher picked a quote from author Jack
London: "The proper function of man is to live, not exist. I
shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time."
Fisher said she chose the quote to capture the personality of her husband,
who "lived each day to the fullest." Fisher, 57, was a principal
consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
The simple dedication ceremony took place on a clear, sunny day reminiscent
of the day of the attacks in New York City, Arlington, Va., and Shanksville, Pa.. Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan,
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8th) and other elected officials spoke to
a crowd of several hundred in the small park.
Several hundred attended the dedication of the 9-11 memorial. (Newsline photo by Stephen E. Mather)
A moving speech came from
memorial selection committee member Julia Caswell Daitch, the sister of
American Airlines Flight 77 passenger William E. Caswell.
“This is one place where people
will be able to look at the loss of one individual, rather than the enormity
of the entire event,” Daitch said, fighting back tears. “We wanted people to
be touched by the randomness” of the violence.
One hundred twenty-five people inside the
Pentagon were killed, and another 64 on board, after terrorists took control
of Flight 77. In New York more than 2,800 died in the collapse of
the World Trade Center towers. In Pennsylvania, 44 people died in the
United Airlines Flight 93 crash after a struggle between passengers and
Caswell, 54, a Navy physicist, is remembered with a quote from
poet William Wordsworth that begins: "What though the radiance which was
once so bright, be now forever taken from my sight."
“I think it speaks to
who he was and our loss," Daitch said. “He was a bright star.” Daitch said
her brother rode his bike past the park as a child and went to get his
marriage license in the courthouse across the street.
After the ceremony, Duncan walked to each bench and
read the quotes selected by family members. He spoke briefly with the
families and placed white roses on their benches.
The memorial, which cost the county $100,000, also
includes a small, metal pavilion with three columns covering a plaque
the names of the victims. A solar
lens in the pavilion roof will shine sunlight on the names on the morning of
Sept. 11 each year.
The artists who designed the memorial, Susan and Gene
Flores of Plainfield, Mass., were selected from more than 50
competitors nationwide. The Floreses worked with the victims’ families and helped
them select their quotes.
Gene Flores said he and his wife wanted
something “elegant and subdued” and that the memorial was designed so that
it could still function as a park. He said the pavilion plaque is shuttered
with metal covers, like the covers of a book, for people to “open the doors
and find out” what the memorial commemorates.
"Everybody thought it was a very simple and thoughtful
proposal," said Public Arts Trust manager Francoise Yohalem, who oversaw the
memorial selection committee.
Yohalem said the family members on the
selection committee made it clear they didn't want a monument, but rather a
quiet place to remember their loved ones.
A public concert by the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters
followed the dedication.
University of Maryland
Philip Merrill College of
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