When visiting the 9/11 Memorial, sometimes we don’t notice the nuances that make this place special. The 2,983 names surrounding the pools illustrate the scale of what was lost, but many don’t realize the bonds they reveal.
I want to describe a feature that makes the Memorial pools’ iconic parapets special: something we call “meaningful adjacencies.” At a first glance, it may appear that the names on the 9/11 Memorial are randomly arranged. There’s no alphabetical order to them, and the only visible groupings are designated by attack site and public service agencies. But behind the 2,983 names are extraordinary stories.
When the Memorial was constructed, victims’ families submitted more than 1,200 requests to arrange specific victims together. They may have worked together, been related or shared something unknown to those planning what we know today. These meaningful adjacencies give new meaning to the Memorial, and one pairing means a lot to me in particular.
Mark Lawrence Bavis and Garnet Ace Bailey worked for the Los Angeles Kings, a member club of the National Hockey League. Both hailed from Massachusetts and were killed together aboard Flight 175 while flying from Boston to Los Angeles to return to the team’s training camp. Their names can be found on the South Pool’s third panel. Most recently, visitors had the chance to see a signed Kings’ jersey in tribute to the men within our last special exhibition, “Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11.”
As a young kid growing up in Boston at the time of attacks, I remember the shock and sadness that followed that morning. In my Catholic school on the morning of the attacks, we immediately went to mass where the priest asked us again and again to pray for “all those people at the World Trade Center.” New York City meant very little to me at that time. I had never been there and never heard of the Twin Towers or the World Trade Center.
In the weeks that followed, hockey season started. I learned that, for the first time, I would be allowed to put a sticker on my helmet. My dad always discouraged me from putting anything on my helmet, but this season was different. This season, every kid playing for a Boston neighborhood team wore a tribute sticker for Mark Bavis (many continue to do so today).
Bavis grew up in Hyde Park, a rival neighborhood of ours in Brighton. His memory was commemorated by a banner hanging in the Hyde Park Rink in addition to these decals that honored his memory. We were taught that Mark played for Hyde Park as a young kid like us and, in many ways, it made the attacks more tangible for us.
Whenever I pass their names on the Memorial, I feel a real sense of duty. Our lived experience in the game of hockey brings us together, both around one of the worst days and greatest response in American history. I encourage you in your visit here to consider finding a meaningful adjacency that resonates with your own experience of 9/11.
By Timothy McGuirk, Communications Manager, 9/11 Memorial & Museum