There is hardly an American who cannot tell you where and what they were doing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 — the day Americans discovered they were not invincible.
And the people of Napa are no different.
About 1,000 people gathered Wednesday evening for the dedication of the Napa 911 Memorial Garden.
Although 12 years have passed since the day terrorists attacked New York City’s Twin Towers and Pentagon, the haunting memories remain with those who lived through one of American’s darkest days.
“I remember it so well. Thinking of it still makes me numb,” said Sharon Tenannt of Napa. “I had the TV on while I was getting ready for work. I heard all the commotion on the TV. It was just sick. This Napa memorial says it all about how we will always remember those who died that day.”
The memorial garden is in downtown on Main Street between Pearl and First streets.
The simplistic, but moving structure, is built from six iron beams salvaged from the New York Trade Center twin towers.
Towering white lucent plaques list the names of the south, north towers, first responders, Pentagon and passengers and crews of flights 11, 175 an 93, all victims who perished that dark day.
It was a four-year love/hate work of art for world renown Napa artist Gordon Huether, who created the memorial.
“It was an emotional experience. There ups and downs, and times I didn’t know if the memorial would ever be finished,” Huether said. “But it is, and I am overwhelmed with the number of people here today to celebrate the memorial garden.”
Kathy Johnson and her 7-year-old son, Nathan, came from Vacaville for the dedication.
“I’m a sixth-grade teacher. I will never forget that morning. The students were frightened and lost. We all sat around in a circle holding each other watching the TV reports,” Johnson said. “Napa is quite a community to have built this beautiful, moving memorial. They should extremely proud.”
Nathan chimed in with his thoughts for the day. “It’s real, real neat. Lots of people died that day,” he said. “It must have been real sad.”
Plans for the memorial started in 2009 when Napa Fire Marshal Darren Drake discovered the New York and New Jersey Port Authority had World Trade Center beams being offered to cities across the United States.
“I got in touch with them, and they had six beams. I asked Gorden (Huether) how many he wanted, and he said, ‘all six.’”
The beams were shipped to Napa and stored at Huether’s studio in east Napa.
“This somber memorial allows the community to reflect on the actions of that day,” Drake said. “It is also a tribute to all those who died and those who survived the 911 terrorist attacks.”
Jim Asbury, chairman of Napa 9/11 Memorial Coalition has been instrumental in securing the funding to make the memorial a reality.
“It’s 60,000 pounds of steel. It’s truly a community project,” Asbury said. “The coalition raised $150,000, the city of Napa put up $120,000.”
The next step was to get the community involved.
“We contacted contractors, businesses — just about anyone we could think of and got them to donate the labor,” Asbury said. “All in all Napa got a $1million park for about $270,000.”
The Napa community was well represented at the dedication. Law enforcement and firefighters showed up decked out in their finest dress uniforms.
The elderly, young and families crowded the garden to get a glimpse of the names of those who lost their lives that perilous day 12 years ago.