9/11 Memorial - Eagle Clutching Mangled I-Beam
Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey
Rings of monuments -- of solemn remembrance and patriotic defiance -- radiate out from NYC's Ground Zero. These memorials, created in the commuter towns and rail stops where people never returned on Sept. 11, 2001, are not part of any broad, coordinated effort. Some towns erected ad hoc monuments immediately, while others required several years to reach consensus on proper tributes to the tragedy.
Monmouth County, about an hour south of Manhattan, lost 147 inhabitants that day. On the attack's fourth anniversary in 2005, the county's 9-11 monument was dedicated on the top of Mount Mitchill, within distant sight of the NY skyline.
The monument is centered around a sculpture by artist Franco Minervini of an eagle flying away from Ground Zero. In its talons it clutches a mangled steel I-Beam from one of the World Trade Center towers.
The hill's scenic vantage is important. It's on prime real estate in an affluent county (where most such spots have been built over with McMansions). Interpretive signs and panaviewers help visitors find other points of interest along Sandy Hook.
One POI not mentioned is Sandy Hook's old Nike Missile Base, part of a military defensive system designed to foil approaching enemy Soviet bombers during the Cold War. So while visitors can look north from Mt. Mitchill to where the towers once stood, they can also scan eastward to the Atlantic Ocean, and recall the Cold War comfort of an enemy with a more predictable inbound trajectory...