When we were first asked by Mr. Nathan Cox, Founder & CEO of 68 Ventures, to be involved with this project, it was quite humbling. At the time no one on the WAS Design team had served in any of the military branches. How could we do a project justice that is meant to honor all of the men and women from the State of Alabama who have died during the war on terror since September 11, 2001, if we had never marched in those boots? There was definitely a feeling of uncertainty and hesitation.

Once we overcame these initial feelings, we started that process by immersing ourselves in the meaning behind the Battlefield Cross which is the central monument and focal point of the memorial. This central sculpture had already been commissioned, so our design initiative was to design the place that would house the monument.

The Battlefield Cross is a traditional symbol dating back to the American Civil War that was used in place of a cross to give honor and respect to a soldier who was killed at a battle site. It is used today as a means of showing respect for the deceased among the still-living members of the troop. After producing several initial concept sketches, we decided a subtle approach was best. The Battlefield Cross would stand at attention in the center of the space with understated interpretive elements worked into the finishes and surrounding design elements.

When approaching the memorial from the main parking area, visitors are grabbed by two bands of black brick pavers representing the twin towers of the World Trade Center where the initial struggle and the war on terror began. These pavers start at the east entrance to the memorial and bisect the plaza and Battlefield Cross monument. The bandings are terminated at the west end of the memorial by two black granite vertical elements that represent the “9/11” and “War on Terror” towers which are again symbolic of The Twin Towers.

The brown and tan bricks used on the ground of the memorial were chosen to represent the fatigues worn by servicemen and women during the War on Terror. The concrete and rock salt paving symbolizes the sand on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The seat wall and landscaping that encompass the memorial provide an eternal focus on the monument and space for quiet reflection.

I do not believe we have been a part of a project team that has made us more proud. We are eternally grateful for all of our servicemen and women, first responders, and those that serve our great nation in any way. It is hard to believe 9/11 took place 19 years ago today…..may we never forget those who have served and died for our freedoms.