If you have never left town on Highway 90 West, you may not be aware of San Antonio’s 9/11 Memorial. A collection of monuments covering 10,000 square feet, just east of Wilford Hall Medical Center, was built and dedicated two years after the terrorist attacks.
Peter Onofre, operations administrator at New Life Christian Center, said Dr. LaSalle Vaughn, a retired Air Force officer and pastor of the ministry, is the person responsible for the vision behind the memorial and the educational initiative.
“He presented the memorial idea to the congregation shortly after the 9/11 event as a proactive response to the national tragedy,” Onofre said. “It was paid for primarily by New Life Congregation members and private donations.”
This group of memorials, designed by San Antonio architect Armando Martinez, remembers the victims of New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and stands to educate passers-by of violence by terrorism. A variety of structures symbolize the different tragedies and the growth that comes through pain.
The Wall of Freedom represents the Pentagon. It expresses the sacrifices made by our ancestors and the freedom gained. The gap at the top of the limestone wall signifies the breach that terrorists made on 9/11. Though damaged, the wall – and the country – still stands.
A crushed granite walkway leads to a marble foundation. The names of the dead are set in stone at the base of the wall.
A three-sided steel pillar on the west end of the plaza honors those on board Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. At the top, a flame burns in memory of those who died.
Two sloping walls escalate in different directions; these surfaces bring to mind the fall of the Twin Towers.
A shallow pool offers reflection. The waters suggest the origins of life. The surrounding trees symbolize strength and wisdom. A plaque nearby intones, “We Will Never Forget.”
Onofre said the public is invited to a Memorial Commemoration on Friday, Sept. 11, at 9 a.m. The Memorial is adjacent to the campus of the New Life Christian Center, 6610 W. US-90.
The keynote speaker will be Brigadier General Select Steven Schaick, Command Chaplain of the Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base.
The commemoration will honor those who died. “A bugler will play Taps,” Onofre said. “A wreath for each of the military services will be presented.”
Onofre said the names of thirty who perished will be read by New Life Christian Academy Hybrid students. “The Mission Continues, a post 9/11 Veterans nonprofit, will have a rose placing ceremony for the 19 fallen children of 9/11,” he said.
State Representative Rick Galindo, Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood, San Antonio Police Chief Anthony Trevino, District 2 City Councilman Alan E Warrick II, and Allan E. Parker, President of The Justice Foundation, are expected to attend.
There will be a session at 10:30 am on cybersecurity and information technology career opportunities inside the New Life Christian Center.
“Representatives from Alamo Academies will be present to talk about career field opportunities with middle and high school students,” Onofre said.
There is no fee to attend. Call 210-675-4023 or visit their website for more information.
*Top image: From left: A collection of monuments was built and dedicated in SAn Antonio two years after the terrorist attacks. Photo by Kay Richter.