Utah Artist Looks to Heart to Create 9/11 Sculpture

By Bryon Saxton Ogden Standard-Examiner

KAYSVILLE — The clay model depicting a firefighter looking heavenward on bended knee while holding a small child in his arms is symbolic of the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.

The 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., resulted in the deaths of 2,996 [sic] people.

Springville artist Angela Johnson has been commissioned for $8,000 to create a 10-foot-tall bronze-cast sculpture capturing the emotions of the event.

Johnson’s statue, titled Heroes of 9-11 Protecting the Future, will be the finishing touch on the 9/11 memorial being created at Utah State University Botanical Gardens, 875 S. 50 West, in Kaysville. The oval-shaped brick-wall monument is a tribute to area victims who were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as all of the service men and women who were killed in the subsequent “war on terror.”

“It is very sacred to me,” Johnson said of the sculpture. “That is what is in my heart. That is the intent of it.”

She said she hopes it will stir memories of the tragic day and how the nation came together in sacrifice and service.

Speaking of being commissioned to do the piece, Johnson said, “I am really grateful for it. The firefighters are a remarkable group of people.”

The only discussion in designing the model was whether to have the firefighter wearing his helmet, Johnson said. She said she came to the decision that, out of reverence to God, the firefighter is to be looking skyward, toward the heavens, so to reveal his eyes, she designed the piece so that his helmet is off to his side.

The statue is symbolic in depicting the firefighter on his left knee, much the way the attack brought the country to its knees, while the firefighter’s right leg shows he is getting ready to rise, as he looks skyward for help, said Kaysville resident Margaret Brough, a memorial organizer.

The child the firefighter holds tightly in his arms represents the future of the country, said Brough, who has taken an active role in developing the memorial as a result of having lost family during the 9/11 attack.

Brough is related to Mary Alice Wahlstrom, who along with her daughter Carolyn Beug, was killed on September 11, 2001, when the terrorist-hijacked commercial airliner they were in, American Airlines Flight 11, crashed into the side of the World Trade Center North Tower in New York City.

The names of Wahlstrom and Beug, along with others with Utah ties killed during the attack and subsequent war, are to be recognized on bronze plaques that are to be part of the memorial.

Johnson, who has done the The Light of the World statue exhibit in Thanksgiving Point Gardens in Utah County, is expected to have the sculpture complete for a September 11, 2013, unveiling, Brough said.

For the unveiling, representatives from each branch of the military, as well as victims’ family members and area firefighters, will be invited to attend, she said.

The overall cost of the 9/11 monument is $250,000. The project is being funded by state dollars and private donations, both cash and in-kind, that have been collected over the last 11 years by members of Davis Youth of Promise.

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