The sensory experiences include the sounds of crushed stone under footsteps, the feel of the rough textured wall, and the disorienting compression of space as the path gently cuts through the earth symbolically express the tragic events of 9/11.
While the path symbolizes lives lost, the wall is dedicated to first responders and the U.S. military. Within this thick monumental surface are 11 niches which visitors are encouraged to place ceremonial objects of reflection and commemoration. The opposite side of the wall greets those approaching from the north with a smooth textured concrete engraved with an inspirational message. On this same north side, a small gathering space and seating allows for both community engagement and the fire department’s ceremonial activities. As the primary feature from this side, a void in the wall frames the floating steel column as an artifact of reflection and remembrance.
The south side of the memorial offers a green space and seating as grounds for viewing and honoring both the firefighters of Cornelius and the brotherhood across the country. The earth gently slopes up towards the memorial path presenting the steel column as a floating artifact levitating from the ground plane. The view above the steel column and scarred wall presents the American flag proudly waiving high above. Horizontal stripes running north to south along the vegetated ground is split at the edge of the fire truck driveway curb and reveals 9 cuts in the earth reminiscent and emblematic of the fallen World Trade Center tower facades.
The memorial engages all the senses in an emotional experience that will continue to educate the local community as to the events of 9/11. Grounding Cornelius provides a community space for public commemoration and intimate spaces for individual, private reflection to honor those that gave their lives that fateful day and every day since to protect and save the lives of others.