September 11 Memorial in Long Beach

Today I went to visit the Firefighter memorial on Bennett Avenue in Long Beach.

Gary Biggerstaff, who created this memorial in his front yard is a firefighter. He visited ground zero ten years ago, and found a note taped to a pole at Firehouse 10. The note had been left by a 9 year old boy who was the son of one of the firefighters killed on September 11. It read “Daddy I miss you, I love you so much. You will always be my hero. I hope I get to see you in heaven. Please don’t forget me, I promise not to forget you.”

This note inspired Gary to place 343 crosses in his front yard on second anniversary of the attacks. The 343 crosses symbolize the firefighters who lost their lives on that day, and he also has a plaque dedicated to the 61 police officers killed.

I had just spent my first few weeks in Southern California on September 11, 2001. I remember being awoken by a frantic phone call from my boyfriend (who went to UMASS) at the time somewhere around 5:45am or thereabouts, and hanging up on him, thinking that what he was saying was a sick joke. He called back again, multiple times and encouraged me to go down the hall to my friend Grant, Aaron & Ed’s room and turn on the tv (I didn’t have a TV in my dorm room).  I did, and I remember rolling myself up in Grant’s comforter, watching the news reporter try to remain calm as an image of smoke coming out of the North tower played in the background. We all watched in horror, as an object appeared near the South tower, and then hit it then the tower fell and not too long after then the North tower fell.

Despite this, school went on at Chapman University almost like normal that day. A few hours after, I was sitting in my 9:30am music theory class, trying to learn about correct barring of eighth notes and sixteenth notes (I still have my notes from this day). I went to work in the Computer Lab. I wrote music. But… I kept looking to the sky. Everything felt wrong. I didn’t understand why everyone else just seemed to be going about their day, like it didn’t matter that so many people had just died, or that we had no idea what exactly was happening.

I think it’s really amazing what Gary did, and that it is so very important to remember and recognize those who do their best to preserve our safety and are there in times of need. And to remember the families that were left behind and changed because of the bravery of the service men and women…


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