Remembering the unforgettable

Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Sept. 11, 2001. Nearly 16 years ago, that day seemingly began like every other Tuesday morning– people commuting to work and beginning their day, and headlines across the nation focusing on news topics, such as then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s criticism of President George Bush’s anti-missle defense stance, Delta Airline stewards voting whether to join a union and NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan preparing to come out of retirement a second time. Those would have been the top stories for that day, but the routine sunny morning was instead interrupted by the sight of a plane soaring through the New York skyline and striking the North Tower of the World Trade Center. What happened on Sept. 11, or 9/11, is engraved in the history of worldwide tragedies– 19 hijackers, affiliated with terrorist group al-Qaeda, took control of four commercial airplanes and crashed them into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center, the western side of the Pentagon in Virginia and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The fourth plane missed its target after passengers defended themselves against the hijackers. Those onboard the planes perished, and the ensuing damage to the Pentagon and the Twin Towers led to a tremendous loss of life for citizens, firefighters, policemen and other officials. Nearly 3,000 people died. What followed the attacks was a war on terror that is still being battled to this day. Locally, Signal Hill responded to the attacks by erecting a memorial near Discovery Well Park on Sept. 8, 2002, nearly a year after the attacks. Signal Hill artist Patrick Vogel, designed and sculpted Unity Monument, which serves as a recognition of the Sept. 11 attacks and the lives lost. A 2008 article by the Signal Tribune states that Vogel made the request to build the monument in June 2002. At its July 2 meeting that year, the Signal Hill City Council unanimously agreed to the have the monument installed at the intersection of Temple Avenue and Skyline Drive. The statue stands at 12 feet tall and is made of stainless steel, copper, brass, bronze and copper-nickel. Vogel said in the article that the five metals represent the racial, cultural and religious differences in the nation. The shape of the monument is “random in nature, which is parallel to the event,” Vogel said in 2008. “The events were random and premeditated, preplanned by individuals who carried out those plans.” It is customary to visit Unity Monument (above) on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

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