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How the FM 9/11 memorial Eagles Rising transforms grief into meaning

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were intended to inspire fear and to demoralize Americans. However, more than twenty years later, we remember heroism and selflessness, inspiration, and cooperation – not fear. The act was intended to show a country paralyzed by its enemies, but instead, Americans and our allies around the world immediately sprung into action – searching for survivors, raising funds for victims and their families, and finding ways to transform the tragedy into a meaningful path forward.

Fulton-Montgomery graduate Louis Pabon worked clean-up at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of the attacks. Pabon and Joel Chapin, professor at FMCC and director of the Perrella Art Gallery, secured one of the largest artifacts from the north tower and brought it to FM’s Perrella Sculpture Garden to be displayed in a way that inspires and uplifts viewers.

Once part of the communications mast, the iconic metal structure continues to communicate, though in a different capacity than it did when it was atop the north tower.

Today, the 33 feet tall mast speaks to the resilience of the American spirit in the face of hardship.

It also commemorates a moment that created ripples of change through the world. Each 9/11, the structure’s shadow touches two white pillars that represent the towers at the precise moments the buildings fell.

More than a memorial, the structure is art. Sculptor and metal worker Howard Brott Sr. transformed the mangled bottom portion of the antenna into a sculpture called Eagles Rising. Its fluid, sculptural quality calls to mind the phoenix, a mythic bird capable of rising from the ashes of its own destruction.

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In a 2015 interview, Director of the Perrella Gallery Joel Chapin said,

“The piece is unlike any other World Trade Center artifact… It kind of looks like something that was alive, almost like a spine. It was at the very top of this building, and it survived coming down.”

Art is one way that we overcome our challenges and make sense of our losses. It provides an outlet for grief, anger, and frustration. Artists and visionaries like Pabon, Chapin, and Brott teach us how to transform our tragedies into meaningful experiences. This 9/11, come see for yourself how your generous contributions have turned an artifact of community grief into an artwork capable of expressing how we rise above it.

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FM Foundation
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