“Moving Memories” – Arizona 9/11 Memorial
A memorial for Arizona’s response to a tragic day
The impact of September 11th ripples through time to all corners of the country, the memories casting a shadow that stretches from the sites in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania to our home here in Arizona. The state’s 9/11 Memorial Commission sought a place for dialogue and reflection on our experience, a living tribute to our evolving understanding of that infamous day and its repercussions. Developed in collaboration with coLAB studio, the Arizona 9/11 Memorial titled Moving Memories illuminates moments in time through the language surrounding the events that unfolded.
A concrete bench and steel canopy encircle a sunken gathering place. Along the northern edge of the memorial, illuminated by a circle of sunlight at noon every September 11th, a beam fragment salvaged from Ground Zero sits atop a concrete pedestal. Rubble from the Pentagon attack and soil from the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, are incorporated into the beam fragment’s base, creating an artifact that weaves together each of the sites.
At the heart of the memorial, along the southern edge of the space, are the words describing the broad spectrum of experiences around the day’s events. As part of the memorial’s development, public historians researched global news reports and performed interviews to document Arizona’s response to the events of September 11th. Phrases pulled from these headlines, quotes, decisions, reactions, emotions, and judgments are carved through the steel canopy: words revealed by the light of the sun as it travels across the desert sky.
The circular canopy of the memorial weaves together two timelines of phrases—one representing the events on the day and the other representing the developments that followed— intertwined with historical facts, emotional tributes, and recognition of those that died. The phrases begin as abstract patterns of light until the sun casts directly through the letters to become legible. These moments of clarity are opportunities for contemplation. As time passes, the words disintegrate into scattered light again until they recede into shadow. The carvings are a permanent record of the fleeting moments etched into our nation’s collective memory, appearing and disappearing again, endlessly.