Numerologists take note: at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Camden County Board of Freeholders will plant 11 trees to commemorate victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the 11th anniversary of the tragedy.
The trees will be placed around the Camden County Victims of Terrorism Memorial, which is located on North Park Drive in Cooper River Park.
It's a fitting addition to the monument, says its creator, Haddonfield sculptor John Giannotti, and a testament to the way in which tributes to the fallen can take on lives of their own long after their creation.
The memorial was dedicated 10 years ago, on the one-year anniversary of 9/11—a unique feat, Giannotti says, and possible only because he'd been working on it for about seven or eight months prior for a different reason.
It was initially commissioned by another Haddonfield resident, Stan Maslowski, whose daughter Diane perished in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103. Giannotti designed a seven-column cloister with bronze plaques to honor each of seven Camden County families who had lost loved ones in that crash.
The date that he was to present his model of the memorial to the committee funding the project: Sept. 13, 2011. Giannotti was prepared to expect some changes.
"I walked into that meeting, and I did not say anything, because I didn't feel it was my place," Giannotti said.
"I'm paraphrasing, but Stan said, 'This monument just got a whole lot bigger.'"
From that point, the committee decided to broaden the focus of the tribute to include other American victims of terrorism, starting with the U.S. Marines killed in the embassy bombings in Beirut and culminating in those lost on 9/11.
The process of creating the memorial was "very affecting," Giannotti says, and he's proud to have helped bring it to life. Although he's worked on other tributes to firefighters and rescue workers, , there's nothing else in his resume quite like it.
The Victims of Terrorism Memorial commemorates those Camden County residents lost in the following tragedies:
- April 18, 1983 - U.S. embassy bombing in Beirut, Lebanon
- Oct. 23, 1983 - U.S. Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon
- Dec. 21, 1988 - Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland
- Feb. 26, 1993 - World Trade Center bombing, New York, NY
- April 19, 1995 - Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, OK
- Aug. 7, 1998 - U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania
- Oct. 12, 2000 - USS Cole bombing in Gulf of Yemen
- Sept. 11, 2001 - plane crashes at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville, PA