9-11 MEMORIAL FOR FALLEN FIRST RESPONDERS IS ERECTED IN POMPANO BEACH
By Marie Puleo, Pompano Beach News Reporter
POMPANO BEACH 9-11 MEMORIAL: A monument honoring the 343 first responders who died saving lives in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was installed last week in Founders Park, in front of the Pompano Beach Historical Society building, located at 217 NE 4th Avenue.
The memorial is a sculpture at the heart of which is a piece of steel from the fallen World Trade Center towers. The Pompano Beach Fire Department acquired the steel artifact in 2014, and Fire Chief John Jurgle asked the city’s Public Art Committee to use it as a public art project.
South Florida artist Cherie Saleeby was commissioned to create the memorial, which is entitled “Unbroken Spine, A book of American Heroism.”
The square-shaped piece of steel from the towers, which resembles an open book, inspired the artist to design a sculpture that represents the spine of a bound book with glass pages. Etched on the tempered glass pages are the names of all the first responders who lost their lives in the terrorist attack. At night, the etched names are illuminated with fiber optic lighting.
For the spine of the book and the tapered base, Saleeby used Corten steel, which has a rust-like appearance that mimics the color of the steel fragment from the towers. The sculpture, which sits on a concrete foundation, measures approximately 5 feet high by 3.5 feet wide.
In the proposal that Saleeby submitted to the Public Art Committee in response to a Call to Artists, she said that “the scale of the piece provides a meaningful, intimate connection with the tragic events.” The right-hand page, which is numbered “Page 343,” references the number of “fallen heroes in a chapter of American history that will never be gotten.” The book’s spine “represents the backbone of the responders and their resolute courage.”
Saleeby said that, in preparing the artwork, she “was teary-eyed” when typing the names of the first responders who perished.
“Every supplier I sought out for the project was equally moved by the piece,” she said.
Founders Park, located in Old Pompano, was chosen as the location for the sculpture because it is the site of the city’s first fire station. The fire station is now a museum operated by the Pompano Beach Historical Society, located just next door, and contains two antique fire engines, as well as photographs and artifacts relating to the history of firefighting in Pompano Beach.
The budget for the memorial artwork was $20,000. Saleeby said that, when designing the sculpture, she took into account the scale of the surroundings and adjacent historic buildings, to complement, not overwhelm. She envisioned that students from the elementary and middle schools in the neighborhood could do rubbings of the engraved names on the monument as part of a field trip to the park.
Saleeby was one of the original artists in residence at Bailey Contemporary Arts (BaCA), which opened in 2014 in the historic Bailey Hotel building in Pompano Beach’s Old Town district.
A dedication ceremony for the Pompano Beach 9-11 memorial is planned for this coming Sept. 11.
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