The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, took more lives than any other single human-engineered event before on United States soil. News media broadcast the sights, sounds, and voices of the day, inscribing the tragedy into the memory of viewers. The human process of collectively mourning our losses and sharing our comfort began immediately.
A few weeks after the attacks, Corey Gammel and Peter Marquez of Long Beach, California, visited Ground Zero in New York City. Stirred by this experience and the example of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the men founded an organization to create the United in Memory 9/11 Victims Memorial Quilt.
The quilt consists of 142 panels containing personalized blocks for each victim of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The work of 3,600 volunteers from 18 countries totals more than 15,000 square feet, and the quilt panels have toured the country since late 2002. According to Gammel, the quilt serves as “a healing balm to our wounded spirits and as eternal beacons, reaffirming our respect for life and freedom and inspiring an end to hatred, bigotry, ignorance and intolerance.”