On Sunday, from 7 until 9 p.m., the Log House Museum museum will display at the base of the Alki Beach Statue of Liberty statue a small portion of notes, art and other items left there after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The notes, cards, teddy bears, drawings, miniature fire engines, silk flowers, photos, candleholders, knitted art, baseball caps and badges with police and fire department insignia fill nine 18-gallon plastic bins.
A typical note reads, “Hurt the USA — yes. Defeat the USA — never. God bless the USA.”
In the hours and days after Seattleites watched on television the unfolding tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, they instinctively went to be together in two public places.
The major gathering was at the International Fountain at Seattle Center.
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But hundreds also were drawn to the 8 ½-foot-high replica of the Statue of Liberty at Alki Beach, where they left all those memories that filled the plastic bins and then went into storage.
“You could just feel it in the air. They had to touch the Statue of Liberty. It was a connection they had to have,” remembers Carol Vincent.
She is the membership secretary for the Log House Museum that’s a block away from the statue and is a repository for this neighborhood that’s called “The birthplace of Seattle.”
Seattle Parks and Recreation asked the museum to preserve all those 9/11 memories that people had left at the statue. A small portion of those notes and various other items will be displayed at the base of the statue from 7-9 p.m. Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
The museum will trust you to properly handle the memories. They won’t be cordoned off, so you can pick up that firefighter’s helmet on which someone took a felt pen and spelled out, “God bless our heros.”
By the time some of the material ended up in the storage bins, it had rained; you can see some drawings and writing that is streaked.
Some of the items left at the statue are a bit more unusual. A man left a 25-cent “lucky coin” that had part of it blown off in a circular manner, as if a bullet had gone through it. “It saved my life,” the man said, according to a museum note.
Those walking by the Alki statue (in 2007, a new one replaced the original that had been damaged by time and vandalism) may not know its history. It is 1/18th the size of the original Statue of Liberty and was placed there in 1952 as part of a national Boy Scouts campaign in which some 200 such statues found homes around the country.
Over the decades, it has become an integral part of the beach, and Vincent says the statue seems appropriate there.
She points out that the white pioneers who first settled at the beach called Alki Point “New York Alki.” The name didn’t stick when Alki didn’t quite grow to be a metropolis.
Sarah Frederick is the museum manager who put together the exhibit. She read the dozens of notes and went through all the artifacts.
The items were inert, but the emotional impact was still there a decade later, says Frederick.
“It was the simple ones, the ones done by little kids, of homemade construction paper” that got to her, says Frederick..
There is a child’s drawing showing three American flags surrounding the lettering, “God bless you and us.”
There is another child’s drawing showing four kids, with caption bubbles coming from them: “Love.” “Freedom.” “Peace on earth.”
From adults, there are a few charged notes such as, “God bless every one. Except Arabs!!” But for the most part, in sometimes long letters, adults try to somehow deal with their feelings that day.
A woman named Ginger writes about how she was watching a movie on TV, when a newscaster broke in, and the newscaster “was going on about how the people were trying to get out of the buildings and debris was flying everywhere, but then she realized some of it was not debris. It was people jumping out of windows … “
Ginger concludes the note with, “be strong together.”
The museum has a small part of its 9/11 collection in its permanent exhibits.
Frederick remembers a visiting New York City firefighter wondering why people in a city so far away from New York cared so much, and why Seattleites found solace by going to the Alki Statue of Liberty.
Frederick says, “To me it seems it is an obvious symbol. It’s liberty and patriotism. People need something like that.”
Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or firstname.lastname@example.org