Lafayette's September 11 Memorial
One of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s proudest and most meaningful moments was the dedication of this memorial to the victims and heroes of September 11, 2001. Dedication ceremonies were held at Parc Sans Souci on September 11, 2002.
The Story Behind Lafayette’s September 11 Memorial
The idea of providing Lafayette residents with a memorial to the victims and heroes of September 11, 2001 was first presented by Public Works employee Richard Breaux, who spoke to Public Works Director John Raines in December 2001. Raines liked the idea, and shared it with City-Parish President Walter Comeaux, who also agreed it would be a fitting tribute.
In January 2002, local representatives formally requested two beams from the World Trade Center from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for use in Lafayette’s memorial. The letter to Bloomberg explained that Lafayette wanted to dedicate its memorial on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
While awaiting the mayor’s response, the Public Works Department began designing plans for the memorial based on the two requested beams, which were each 13.5 feet long. The plan was to stand the beams side by side, just as the World Trade Center’s North and South towers stood side by side. The beams would be oriented in the same direction the actual towers faced, and would be surrounded by a pentagon-shaped bench in memory of the attack on the Pentagon building. The northwest section of the bench would be purposefully defaced to correspond to the spot where the building was damaged by terrorists who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77. Careful planning ensured a one to 100 scale for the local monument.
In February 2002, Public Works heard back from the mayor of New York City. Bloomberg’s office told local officials the beams could not be released to Lafayette, because as part of a crime scene, they were being held as evidence. As a result, modifications were made to the memorial’s design.
On May 13, 2002, the New York City Office of Emergency Preparedness called and told the Public Works Department that the city had approved release of the two beams – but that they would have to be picked up within 10 days, no later than May 24, 2002.
On May 21, Public Works employees Larry Broussard and Richard Breaux flew to New York to make arrangements for accepting the beams from New York City and to coordinate transportation to Lafayette. Another Public Works employee, Brent Brouillette, made arrangements with a trucking company to transport the beams from New York City to Lafayette. The delegation from Lafayette met with New York City representatives at Ground Zero on May 22 and loaded the beams onto the truck. The two pieces of what was once the World Trade Center arrived safely in Lafayette on May 29.
In August 2002, limestone panels from the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. were also acquired for use in Lafayette’s memorial. American Legion Post 69 made the arrangements, and the pieces were incorporated into the memorial’s design. The garden is surrounded by a pentagon-shaped bench containing actual Pentagon limestone pieces damaged on September 11, 2001 and is planted in a mix of soil that includes earth from the Pennsylvania field where one of the hijacked planes crashed.
City-Parish President Comeaux made the decision to construct the memorial in Parc Sans Souci. Lynn Guidry Architects, consultant for the ongoing Central Parks Network, refined the basic design provided by the Public Works Department. M.D. Descant, contractor for the park project, built the memorial.
Through the efforts of many, many people, the memorial was dedicated as planned during ceremonies held on the evening of September 11, 2002. Guest speakers included Comeaux, Raymond Cordova of Senator John Breaux’s office, Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Blanco, Louisiana State Police Colonel Terry Landry, Judge Richard Haik, and the heads of various local government divisions and public service organizations.
About 2,000 people attended the ceremony.