H.B. honors 9/11 with Civic Center memorial

Published: March 19, 2013 Updated: March 27, 2013 10:48 a.m.

"We will never forget." Words that solicit images of tragedy and loss simultaneously with memories of heroism and hope will soon be displayed as part of a memorial at the Huntington Beach Civic Center to honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

H.B. honors 9/11 with Civic Center memorial

Photo by: Jhoselyn Ramirez

The City Council at its meeting Monday approved the memorial, which will feature a black granite base with five sides to represent the Pentagon, inscriptions to represent the victims on each of the four planes involved in the attack and two 19-foot-tall towers with a cascading water feature to represent the Twin Towers.

The proposed 9/11 Memorial will pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The focal point of the memorial will be two 4-foot I-beams from the World Trade Center that were given to the city's Police Officers' Association and Firefighters' Association.

The associations were presented with pieces of the steel beams on Sept. 11, 2011, by New York firefighter Chris Howard, whose father, Port Authority Police Department Officer George Howard, died while trying to rescue several people who were trapped in one of the buildings.

The associations, along with some community members, formed the 9/11 Memorial Committee and have been working to raise funds and gain approval for the memorial.

The memorial will be built on the north side of the Civic Center, a prominent spot nestled between the Police Department and the main civic buildings. It will replace a defunct fountain that hasn't had water flowing through it for several years.

The council considered an option to place the memorial in the amphitheater that sits below the main plaza level at the Civic Center, but that location was not well-received by those working to get the memorial front and center.

"This is something that we as a city should be proud to embrace," said Dennis Hashin, chairman of the committee. "The 9/11 committee will not allow the memorial of those brave citizens to be buried in a hole that cannot be seen by everybody who passes by City Hall."

Artist Patrick Vogel, who has another 9/11 memorial in Signal Hill, said he created the memorial to fit the north side of the Civic Center.

"I designed this particular memorial ... based on that area and that feel and the comfort level I had in that space; to undermine the memorial and put in the in the lower section doesn't give the memorial justice," he said.

It didn't take much convincing to get the council members to unanimously agree.

"What this monument honors primarily is the public-safety men and women who gave their lives that day," Councilwoman Jill Hardy said. "When I see it in that placement, what I see is the police station to the right and that seems like such an appropriate place. It just makes sense there to me."

The committee also wants to landscape the area and add more trees to create a space for reflection. City Council members said they may also consider moving the Veterans' Memorial that sits on the east side of the Civic Center into the same area.

The committee hopes to dedicate the memorial on Sept. 11 this year.