With September 11 coming up, our thoughts no doubt return to that fateful day in 2001 that shifted the country if not the world. It was an experience that sent ripples of existential dread and sadness far and wide. While the events of September 11, 2001 happened on the other side of the country from the city of Rancho Cucamonga, the impact shook the community there as it did with so many other cities and towns. Now, 22 years later, Rancho Cucamonga is edging closer to breaking ground on a new memorial park meant to commemorate the brave souls lost in the national tragedy.
Painful Memories from Coast to Coast
It was July 4, 2002 when 30-foot-long steel remnants of the World Trade Center arrived in Rancho Cucamonga. Preservationists harvested these catastrophic keepsakes from the smoking hellscape of Ground Zero. Their intentions? To put them on display. And, for a brief period, Rancho Cucamonga’s Jersey Fire Station was the venue. It allowed Rancho Cucamonga’s citizens an icon that inspired pensive thoughts, memories of fallen citizens and first responders, and general reflection.
It was just a scant few days that officials displayed the remnants. Yet an overwhelming number of people came out to pay their respects. So many people came out that thoughts turned to a permanent memorial. After all, officials had decided to officially donate the steel to the city of Rancho Cucamonga. But it would be two decades before the idea really took root.
How the City of Rancho Cucamonga Plans to Honor the Fallen
In 2022, the city of Rancho Cucamonga definitively decided to erect a permanent September 11 memorial. They would place it across from the forthcoming Fire Station 178. With the crucial role firefighters played in the response to the tragedy, the placement seemed fitting. Incorporating the original donated World Trade Center remnants, the memorial will also include pieces from the Pentagon and from Flight 93 courtesy of Shanksville, Pennsylvania’s Flight 93 National Memorial. In total, the park is planned to span 1.3 acres.
The Challenges of Funding a Memorial Park
However, the city of Rancho Cucamonga still needed to find a way to fund the project. Even with the donated remnants, a brand new 1.3 acre memorial park would come with a steep price tag. Initially, the city turned to the people of Rancho Cucamonga, hoping to raise a significant portion of the cost through crowdfunding. However, community support only managed to raise $30,000… far below the $1.5 million dollar goal. Progress on the memorial was dangerously close to ceasing. Then, on July 14, funding to the tune of $3.2 million was secured through a California bill. It was enough to proceed with construction.
Plans for Rancho Cucamonga’s September 11 Memorial Park
Currently, the city of Rancho Cucamonga is immersed in mapping out a construction timeline for their September 11 memorial park. They’ll be working closely with fire district planners since the memorial will share space with Fire Station 178. While this kind of project is typically drawn out, the city hopes to expedite the process.
The memorial will showcase the donated remnants, along with additional monuments and amenities across a canopied walkway. Two of the monuments will be specifically devoted to honoring Rancho Cucamonga’s Gold Star Service Members who have passed since the events of the September 11 tragedy.
Other plans include an eternal flame blooming from a pedestal of granite, a garden area, and a planter distinguished by a trio of flagpoles. Since the memorial is designed for reflection, city of Rancho Cucamonga planners will also include several benches and community spaces.
A Long Time Coming
With no date of completion or even of groundbreaking publicized, the memorial will not be completed in time for this year’s September 11 anniversary. However, the certainty that it will someday be a refuge for those hoping to reflect on the horrific event should comfort Rancho Cucamonga citizens. It may have been two decades in the making, but it’s finally on the way.