OPINION: SUNY Oneonta’s 9/11 Memorial is Poignant, Moving
A year ago my fourth book was published. This one, published by Syracuse Unviersity Press, is titled “Monumentally New York” and it takes a look at 30 different monuments, statues and memorials found around Upstate New York. The list covers all elments of Upstate life, from history to entertainment to folklore.
I knew I had to include one of the hundreds of memorials to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. I chose the monument found right here in my own back yard at SUNY Oneonta. Here is how I describe it in my book in a chapter I called “Sunflowers and Roses”
“I chose the memorial on the campus of the State University of New York at Oneonta to represent all of (the monuments) them. Located on the northern quad of the SUNY campus, across from the Hunt Union Hall (a student gathering place), there stand two giant towers, plain, grim, stark, and somehow warmly comforting. Artist/sculptor Charles Bremer of Otego, New York, created these to-scale twin towers out of twenty-five tons of cast concrete. They rise twelve feet skyward like silent sentinels amidst the hurly-burly of campus life and honor seven victims of the disaster with ties to the college community. Atop each tower, at precisely the exact location of the planes crashing into them (to scale), curiously consoling emblems adorn the towers.
On the South Tower, near the sixtieth-floor impact zone, Bremer has fashioned a peaceful sunflower to mark the spot where souls were sent skyward, the sunflower being a mostly Southern flower. Near the ninety-first-floor impact zone of the North Tower, the artist has placed a rose, decidedly a Northern flower, emerging from the crash site. The center of the rose dissolves into an abstract teardrop and heart motif. And that is it. No flags, no eagles, no men in uniform, no smoke, no fire. Two great towers sprouting a rose and a sunflower.
The monument is poignant, peaceful, and will, in fact, speak to you. It is magnificent in its simplicity and quietude. To me, it represents all of the hundreds of memorials to that dark day perfectly.”