Mass. Transforms Scars From 9/11 Attacks Into Memorials
BOSTON (AP) — Despite the unwitting, supporting role Boston played in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, it was spared a direct hit. Ten years later, residents across the city and state still are struggling with the psychic scars and emotional trauma of the surprise deadly assault.
The pain comes partly from knowing that hijackers used Logan Airport as the launching pad for the two jets that flew into the World Trade Center towers, bringing them both down and taking many American lives.
Since the attacks, the Massachusetts landscape has become home to dozens of memorials meant to both celebrate the lives of those who perished and offer a measure of healing for what was then an unthinkable tragedy.
Read: 9/11: 10 Years Later
There’s the granite structure listing victims’ names at Boston’s historic Public Garden.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports from the Public Garden
And a glass-enclosed memorial to the passengers and crew of the hijacked planes at Logan Airport, alongside dozens of simple plaques and stone reminders of people lost that day.
At Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham, the football scoreboard carries the simple message, “In Memory of Rick Thorpe (hash)3 – Class of 1984” — a reminder of the 35-year-old who worked at the investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and lost his life in Tower Two of the World Trade Center.
WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports from Boston
Boston College has built a replica of the famed 13th-century stone labyrinth on the floor of the nave of Chartres Cathedral in France as a memorial to the school’s 22 alumni who died in the attacks.
In Billerica, the family and friends of 23-year-old Jessica Sachs, who died aboard American Airlines Flight 11, have created a simple prayer garden at the New Colony Church to honor her memory.
And in Westfield, Harold Murphy worked with other local families on another kind of memorial — the dedication of a portion of preservation land to his brother Brian, one of three Westfield natives who perished in the attacks.
Forty-one-year-old Brian Murphy died while working at the financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center. He was a vice president in the firm and was on the 105th floor of north tower when the planes struck. He left a wife and two daughters.
Westfield’s bucolic setting may seem a world away from the urban chaos of lower Manhattan, but Harold Murphy said the 18 acres of woodland donated by neighbors is the ideal way to remember his brother.
“It was an idyllic place to grow up. As kids we always went down to the river to play and ride our bikes and go swimming and fish,” Harold Murphy said. “It was a place we’d always go when Brian was home on vacation.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports on the Plymouth memorial
Christie Coombs, whose husband Jeff, 42, died on Flight 11, said it’s understandable that much of the nation’s attention is on New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Still, she finds herself having to remind others of the magnitude of loss that Massachusetts felt on that day and
throughout the intervening years. “All the focus is on the crash sites and I suppose that’s the way that it should be, but what needs not to be overlooked is that so many of the people on the planes were from the Boston area,”
“We are constantly saying that it’s not something that we are proud of, but the planes did take off from here,” she added.
In all, more than 200 Massachusetts residents or those with strong ties to the state died in the attacks.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports on a 9/11 mural that will go up in Government Center
For local families who lost loved ones that day — many of whom were on the hijacked planes — the repeated images of the jetliners hitting the towers reopen those wounds every time they are shown on television.
“Some families have described it as watching their loved ones being murdered every time it comes on the screen,” said Peter Dimond, a board member for the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund, a nonprofit corporation devoted to supporting the families.
One of the most prominent memorials to the Massachusetts’ victims is the curved, granite structure on the Boston Public Garden bearing the names of those who died.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports on a memorial to a Brookline native killed in the attacks.
As that attacks slip deeper into the past, families and others worry that the depth of their grief could be lost along with an appreciation of the horror of that day.
Dimond said younger people have a fuzzier sense of what happened that day, including a 15-year-old found skateboarding on the Public Garden memorial earlier this year.
“When he was questioned by a reporter about why he was on a memorial, he said, `Why is there a memorial to 9/11 in Boston when it happened in New York?”‘ Dimond said. “It was appalling that somebody of that age wouldn’t understand what 9/11 means in Massachusetts.”
Dimond said the state needs to develop a curriculum to teach students about the attacks.
Yet another reminder to the lives cut short on that day is a bridge connecting Attleboro and Pawtucket, R.I.
Earlier this summer the span was dedicated to Lynn Goodchild, 25, who died when the United Airlines Flight she was taking to Hawaii for a vacation was hijacked and flown into the South Tower.
Accompanying Goodchild on the flight was her boyfriend Shawn Nassaney, 25, of Pawtucket. The two used the bridge to visit each other throughout their relationship.
While the families have also created their own memorials — a foundation in Goodchild’s name and a scholarship fund to honor Nassaney — true peace remains elusive.
“It really doesn’t heal,” Patrick Nassaney, Shawn’s father, said when the bridge was dedicated. “There’s no such thing as closure. As you go on, it’s like dust. It builds up a veneer.”
Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie and Johanna Kaiser in Boston and David Klepper in Rhode Island contributed to this report.
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