United in Memory 9/11 Victims Memorial Quilt™: A Legacy of Love
September 11, 2001 will forever be remembered as the day when terrorist attacks inflicted the costliest tragedy ever on American soil. On this horrific day, not only did we lose over 300 heroic firefighters and many police officers, including military personnel, but we also lost grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, and friends. Our nation and the entire world mourned on the insurmountable loss of thousands of lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, PA. We devoutly grieved with the bereaved families in the loss of their loved ones and shared in the pain inflicted upon us by this act of man’s “inhumanity to mankind.”
Weeks following the attacks, Long Beach, CA, residents Corey Gammel and Peter Marquez, experienced “firsthand” the eeriness of Ground Zero, where the WTC Twin Towers once stood. Corey’s feelings were poignantly expressed when he stated, “The images that you see on television, on the Internet, and in pictures cannot compare to being confronted with it in person. Being there, smelling the smoldering remains, and seeing the pile of rubble was unbelievable.” Realizing people were terribly saddened by these events, Corey and Peter felt people needed a balm of healing to soothe their wounded spirits. Corey, thus, envisioned making a quilt similar to the world-famous AIDS Memorial Quilt. So, after returning from New York City, Corey and Peter founded the United in Memory 9/11 Victims Memorial Quilt Inc.™, an all-volunteer “grassroots” organization, whose goal was to create a truly wonderful and beautiful Memorial Quilt that would serve as a lasting tribute to all those who died on 9/11.
After creating the United in Memory website, we invited people to participate in the creation of this wonderful memorial by making a memorial block dedicated to the memory of a victim who was killed on 9/11. It is said, “Love is sharing and is the most wonderful reason forgiving.”
People visiting our website expressed their support surely with a lot of love and a lot of giving. Through the power of the internet, our appeal for help reverberated not only across California and the United States, but also across the globe — from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and Japan to France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom, just to name a few. It took a couple of months to get the word out; but it didn’t take long before volunteers started sending in their pieces of fabric that told stories, showed pictures, and held many memories about the individual victims. Volunteers worldwide (a total of 18
countries) contributed individual blocks personally and uniquely designed to honor all those who perished on 9/11.
With hundreds of blocks already received from these wonderful volunteers, Corey called for help in the enormous task of assembling the blocks together to create wonderful panels that would comprise this magnificent quilt. So, in the early part of May 2002, we started our first quilt workshop, which was held inside three small classrooms at the Paramount High School in Paramount, CA.
At this workshop, a core of about 40 women volunteers, headed by Carol Allison of Cerritos and who are all experienced quilters in their own right, responded to Corey’s call for help and even volunteered their ideas on how to proceed with this enormous task.
Then, from June 1, 2002, and every Saturday thereafter, the United in Memory Quilt workshop (often referred to as “Quilting 101”) became the main event inside the foyer of the One World Trade Center in Long Beach. Hundreds of women, men, and children from the Long Beach area and neighboring coastal cities as far south as San Diego and as far north as the Bay Area became involved in this gigantic quilt workshop. Assembling the blocks together, ironing the muslin fabric, sewing the blocks to create the 10 1/2′ x 10 1/2′ panels. Tying the knots together, happily, oftentimes passionately, and under sweltering heat (thanks for electric fans!) inside the One World Trade Center. Quilting workshops were also held on Wednesday nights inside the Clubhouse of Leisure World in Seal Beach and at the home of Carol Allison in Cerritos.
The summer of 2002 will forever be etched in the minds of all the block-makers and volunteers as a commemorative event. They were able to share their spirit of camaraderie, dedication, and volunteerism with hundreds of fellow block-makers and volunteers in the creation of a truly magnificent quilt to honor all of the victims of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Truly, the United in Memory Quilt has lived up to its standard of “honoring the victims and comforting the world.”
The finished quilt consists of 142 individual quilts or panels, each measuring 10 1/2′ x 10 1/2′. Each panel is comprised of 25 blocks, each block measuring 18″ x 18″ and dedicated to each and every victim of the World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2, the Pentagon, and the passengers and crew members of American Airlines Flights 11 and 77, and United Airlines Flights 93 and 175. The total square footage of the quilt is more than 15,500, and if all 142 panels were laid end to end, the quilt would stretch more than a quarter of a mile. That is more than five football fields in length, and nearly 300′ longer than the WTC towers were tall.
The United in Memory 9/11 Victims Memorial Quilt is currently making tours around the country until a permanent home can be found. We would like the entire quilt to be on permanent display somewhere in New York or Washington, DC, in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read a little bit of the history of the United in Memory Quilt.