The BC Veteran’s Center honors 9/11 with a special monument

Justin White, Repoter

For the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the students of Bakersfield College were able to view a temporary memorial monument that honored the lives of those who died. It was placed in front of the Veteran’s Center on the BC Panorama campus. Jeremy Staat, the creator of the memorial, is also a Marine Corps veteran and welding professor at BC. “I received an email from Jenny Frank, who is a Marine Corps veteran, and who I have known for years. She asked if I would be interested in building a memorial for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks… I knew I would need to build something that was monumental to honor the fallen, to represent the responders, and those that answered the call to serve.”

The monument is made out of 2”x 2” square tubing with a 16-gauge floor, using the Gas Metal Arc Welding process. Staat said he used this process to “place small amounts of filler metal down, known as tack welds, to form solid welds on the joints.” He stated that he laid down about 3,000 tack welds to represent the almost 3,000 individuals killed in the 9/11 attacks. He also noted that “red carnations and personal messages” are adorning the memorial as “representations of the victims and personal notes left behind” from those affected by the attacks, and from those that wished to leave a message of encouragement or a prayer for the victims and their families.

When asked about that day, Staat was able to recall the events in great detail, stating “I was living in Scottsdale, AZ and I remember waking up to a phone call from my friend Doug. He was very agitated and upset about the images that he was seeing on the television… I turned my television on to see the smoke billowing out of the north tower that had just been hit.”

Like many others, Staat first believed that the event was a horrible accident, until the second plane made impact. “That is when I knew this was no accident and that we had just been attacked.” Staat also recalled, “having a grandfather who fought in WWII and a father that fought in Vietnam, I knew it was time for me to serve as well. I thought to myself, ‘this is my generation’s Pearl Harbor.”

For such a milestone anniversary, Staat clearly understands the significance of this memorial, and was glad to be able to create it. “It is an honor and a privilege for me to build this piece,” Staat says. “ I can only hope that it will bring healing to those that need it, convey awareness, and educate those who were young or not even born when the attacks happened.” He also says that while the memorial is currently only temporary, he hopes to build a permanent version soon, and already has some ideas for a possible permanent memorial, saying “I would like to incorporate a water feature in the base of the memorial that mirrors the 9/11 memorial in New York City.” The memorial is available for viewing outside of the Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Center at Bakersfield College for a limited time.