Honoring 9/11 victims
It’s chunk of steel—bent and burned, it measures a mere four feet in length. This seemingly insignificant piece of scrap metal holds the historical memory of the day everything changed in this country.
Fifteen years after the devastating effects of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, this holy wreckage salvaged from the World Trade Center will become part of an emotionally expressive work of art at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library.
The Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce commissioned a prominent artist—well-known sculptor David Haussler of Fort Salonga—to create a breathtaking sculpture featuring steel that the chamber acquired several years ago. This Sept. 11, 15 years to the day of the attacks, this work of art will be unveiled for all to see at its permanent home—the Alma Craib Memorial Garden located next to the library.
When Haussler accepted the assignment to create this work of art memorializing the thousands of lives lost, he had recently been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal and liver cancer. Haussler, an avid surfer, is a creative man who won a full scholarship to an art college in the Midwest. He’s been making outdoor sculptures for more than 30 years and has completed commission pieces for several libraries and schools, as well as created several 9/11 memorials. As for his frankness about his current health issues, Haussler said that it’s just an extension of the honesty that being an artist draws out of him.
“What was nice about this project is that it landed on me at the beginning of being diagnosed with a pretty severe cancer. For some people that would be a private matter, but for me I made it a public matter because I’m educating people and letting them know what I have,” he said. “This way they know what you have and what you’re dealing with, but it doesn’t stop the process of what you’re artistically trying to create—and the creative process on this project was specifically about 9/11.”
Chamber President Elan Wurtzel noted that when his group first started meeting with Haussler, he started sketching right away, producing several different designs. The committee considered all of the designs and selected the one that they felt articulated their vision of what they wanted.
“There are two things to this whole project,” he said. “One is to give tribute to the people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and the second thing is to celebrate what makes our country great—freedom, liberty and tolerance. And that’s what this sculpture is intended to capture.”
The sculpture will consist of two steel towers topped off by a see-through stainless-steel globe erected around an actual piece of World Trade Center steel. The final piece will feature a granite base embedded in concrete, which will reach four feet into the ground. The globe will be designed to turn when confronted with a light breeze, much like a large wind vane. The sculpture will also feature lighting as well as a Quick Response Code that individuals with smartphones can scan to gain access to an interactive experience detailing the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
To Haussler, this sculpture represents one of the darkest periods in American history, but also the strength of unity and hope for a better tomorrow. And, as it very well could be his artistic swan song, he is driven to make the project one that will endure for years to come.
“This was a satisfying project to work on for sure, because it comes at a time where this could be my last commission ever and I did look at it from that point of view,” he said. “I wanted to put this together, but sometimes because I’m currently going through chemotherapy it hasn’t been easy, so I’ve had tremendous help from Anthony Ingoglia of East Northport and the two of us are actually working together on
this project, so it’s a really nice union of two artists working on this wonderful project that I hope touches many people.”