UCSB’s College Republicans, the Young America’s Foundation, and several volunteers placed 2,977 American flags in the sands of West Beach Tuesday morning to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Former Lieutenant Governor and congressional candidate Abel Maldonado attended the event, helping volunteers plant flags and set up the memorial exhibit. At exactly 8:36, 9:03, 9:37 and 10:03 a.m., musicians played bagpipes in memory of the four separate attacks. The flags remained until 6 p.m., when a bugler played Taps to bring the memorial to a close.
Maldonado said he was in the California state capitol the morning of September 11, 2001. When the attacks began, he said the building was evacuated and its occupants moved to the legislative offices building across the street, where Maldonado said they watched the events unfold, first thinking it was an accident, then looking on in shock.
Kurt Bardella, Communications Director for Maldonado’s campaign, said the events of 9/11 were a formative part of the nation’s current identity — like the moon landing or assassination of JFK, everyone remembers where they were when the planes struck.
Throughout Tuesday’s service, joggers, cyclists, pedestrians, and other beachgoers stopped to sit by the memorial, snapping pictures of the flags on iPhones and cameras. Mike Whitehead, an area resident and father of one of the bagpipe players said he was at work at Home Depot when the planes hit New York. That weekend, Whitehead said, his family went to Goleta Beach. The silence, he said, was eerie, as the nearby Santa Barbara airport was completely still, with flights still grounded.
Ron Cooper, a Los Angeles-based dentist staying at a hotel across the street came down with his camera for the memorial. Cooper said the rows of flags were “a sobering sight.”
Roger Knox, a member of the Santa Barbara Tea Party walked up and down the rows in a shirt emblazoned with stars and stripes, tapping flags straight with a rubber mallet. Midway through a row Knox stopped, hand on hip.
“That’s a lot of Americans,” he said.