Those looking for a way to reflect and remember the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks have a meaningful spot to visit right here in Athens, Georgia. It is a difficult day for the entire nation as we join together to mourn those who lost their lives. Artist Bob Hart has created a 9/11 memorial trail on his property in eastern Clarke County, just 9 miles from downtown.
Bob Hart, a former technology professor at the University of Georgia, visited New York City and the site of the Twin Towers crash the month after the attack. At that time, he became determined to create a memorial. Over the next several months, with the help of his wife, friends, community members and fellow artists, he developed the 300-yard memorial trail. The wooded terrain is a serene setting to take in the symbolism of each of the art installations.
Journalist Christine Tibbetts visited the memorial and described her experience in a 2014 edition of Georgia Connector:
"What you'll encounter as you meander the 300-yard trail are 99 wooden posts, each preserving 29 or 30 names of different 9/11 victims. Honoring each is far more possible here than in many memorials: these are painted in stark white on the wood in large, clear letters. Hart topped each pole with an American flag painted on a cedar shingle.
'This is about remembrance,' he says of the names, placed randomly but possible to track with a guidebook available in a box at the trailhead. Also in Hart's memorial forest are installations by noted Athens artists Mary Padgelek and Harold Rittenberry.
Three Padgelek paintings declaring faith, hope, and love surround an American flag. Says self-taught sculptor Rittenberry, 'The way to keep something precious to you is to fight for it all the time. It's the whole human experience.'
Hart, too, developed more art to guide remembering the details that day: stylized views of the Pentagon, the New York City skyline, and the Flight 93 crash site, filled with symbolism."
The 9/11 memorial is open daily to the public with no fee at 320 Morton Farm Lane, Athens. Take a minute to stop by to reflect and observe a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives 20 years ago. For more information about the trail and an online tour, visit Bob Hart's website.
All Photos by Bob Hart