Crunch. Bam. Whomp. Stonecutters Andy Hebert and Evan Ladd swing sledgehammers, pound chisels, and wield blowtorches for a living. They’ve made everything from tombstones to pickling tanks. But their latest project may be the most important: monuments for the new 9/11 Memorial Glade.
On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, 19 Islamic terrorists attacked the United States. Attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania killed 2,996 people and injured over 6,000. Hundreds more became ill from inhaling debris from the collapse of the two giant towers of the World Trade Center. The sick included rescue workers at “Ground Zero,” site of the demolished buildings.
Today, a 9/11 memorial stands exactly where the Twin Towers once stood. Two fountains surrounded by names of those who died form a somber tribute. Soon another memorial will be added.
The word memorial means “to remember.” Humans erect memorials to help recall events and people who have gone before us. God values remembering too. He told Joshua to build a memorial from stones out of the Jordan River (Joshua 4) as a remembrance of God’s deliverance. He asks Christians to take the Lord’s Supper “in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)
Stonecutters Hebert and Ladd are craftsmen at the Rock of Ages granite manufacturing company in Barre, Vermont. They’re hewing a memorial to the 9/11 rescue workers.
One man swings a sledgehammer onto a tool held by the other. Chunks of speckled rock fall to the dusty floor.
They’re layering thick granite slabs on top of each other into 8-by-12-foot wedges. Each weighs between 15 and 17.5 tons.
The 9/11 Memorial Glade will be a pathway flanked by six large blocks of stone. Its location marks the main access ramp to the Ground Zero rescue-and-recovery site.
Hebert and Ladd’s stone wedges will taper to a point at the pathway. Designers intend the wedges to appear “worn, but not beaten,” symbolizing “strength and determination through adversity” according to the 9/11 Memorial Glade website.
Steel salvaged from the original World Trade Center will be fused into the stone structures using kintsugi, a Japanese pottery repair technique. The metal allows cracks to be showcased, not hidden. The highlighted cracks signal that the breakage is a valued and remembered part of the object’s past.
“It’s a great honor for me to do this for them,” stonecutter and firefighter Hebert says, referring to the Ground Zero first responders. A badge honoring September 11 volunteers hangs in Hebert’s workspace. At the top, the badge reads, “REMEMBER.”