All you need to say is “Never Forget” and every American knows what you are talking about. It has now been 20 years since the United States underwent the most tragic terrorist attack in its history and the crimes committed will not be forgotten. We tell each other to not forget what happened on September 11, 2001 so that we can continue to honor the innocent lives lost and their memory can transcend time.

Of the near 3,000 victims who were taken from us in the attacks, 343 were firefighters trying to save another’s life. Firefighters across the country take this to heart by commemorating those lost every year and some fire departments have even gone as far as creating tributes outside their stations. One particular tribute that stands out is the Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Garden which is located outside the Beverly Hills Fire Department. The memorial consists of a pentagonal base to represent the Pentagon surrounded by greenery to remind us of the brave lives lost in Shanksville. Atop of the base is a bent, yet intact steel beam that was found in the rubble after both the North Tower and South Tower fell. The Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Garden was unveiled on the tenth anniversary in 2011 and still sits outside the fire department today.

Looking at the remains from a terrorizing event reminds us of the crime, but we might consider it as art. The memorial can be seen this way because art is something that provokes thought and emotion. However, what looks like contemporary art on the corner of Rexford and South Santa Monica is also a symbol of tragedy. Gazing into what this metal rod has been through reminds the viewer that fellow citizens and first responders had to withstand the same test. Although so many have fallen, pieces like this stand to resemble that we must stay strong.

Art that we see today aspires to evoke an equal level of emotion and inspiration. Artists look outside the box and beyond the canvas to create a triumphant piece of art. They want their creation to tell a story, construct a thought, and strike a cord. This memorial does it all; it is transcendent. From a literal standpoint, the beam is a beautiful piece of curved steel, but the weight that it carries is immeasurable. After all of the tragedies, this piece of art rises above the ashes of thousands.

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Jonathan Schmidt

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