KAYSVILLE — A 9/11 memorial is displaying more hope after weathered brass plaques were replaced with ceramic plaques for the 20th anniversary of the tragic event.
In addition to representing the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the war afterward, the Kaysville memorial represents the efforts of youth to find hope and do something positive in the wake of a tragedy.
The initial plan was for it to be a small memorial with a bench and a tree or some plaques, but the memorial grew into a long fundraising effort involving hundreds of youth. The memorial is divided into three sections, "Remembrance" which commemorates those who died on 9/11 and in the war, "Unity" which represents the country after 9/11, and "Hope" which includes pictures drawn by school children.
Margaret Wahlstrom, who lost her mother-in-law and sister-in-law in the 9/11 attack, said she was "very distraught" by the state of the memorial and how the pictures were barely visible. She said the memorial seemed to display the troubles over the last 20 years instead of the hope, but now the refreshed look adds symbolism and shows her that "we can keep restoring things."
Mark H. Bott Company, a memorial company based in Ogden, helped replace the plaques.
Camille Rogers, who helped design and raise money for the monument, told KSL.com that shortly after 9/11 someone in her Youth of Promise group suggested building a memorial and the rest of the group agreed.
"We had never experienced anything like this and you don't know what to do or how to feel. ... It just felt so good to be able to work together on something," Rogers said.
The memorial was completed about 12 years later when she was pregnant with her third child. As a teenager, she had hoped that the memorial would be a way that she could teach her children about 9/11, and that has become a reality as she takes her four children to visit the memorial each year.
"When they see that memorial they stop, and you do feel a sense of reverence there," Rogers said. She uses the memorial to share experiences about that day, including the sacrifices made, the stories of those she met during the project, and how people came together and reached out to others.
The memorial was initially going to be something small like "a bench and a tree," Rogers said, but it grew into something much bigger as they found a location at the Utah State Botanical Gardens and met with an architect. Youth worked to raise money by putting on a play and programs, doing a bake sale, talking to city councils and politicians and putting jars around town for people to donate money.
Karlene Kidman Sillitoe, an adult youth leader with the Youth of Promise Group, said the fundraising efforts really helped the kids and "gave them confidence." She said that she was honored to be involved in the memorial and that she made lifetime friends through the process with the youth and others.
Wahlstrom said that it was fun to watch the hundreds of youth who were involved over the 12 years develop different ideas to fundraise, and develop the memorial plans. Over time, the designs for the memorial altered as the kids' feelings about the event altered and they had experiences interacting with the families of soldiers who were killed in the war.
"That whole memorial came about because of the kids and because of what they felt and what they were thinking and became very meaningful to me," she said.
The memorial, to Wahlstrom, represents not only the family she lost, but also how the event impacted everyone in the nation and families of soldiers and that people can help each other through challenges.