Utahns pay respects at memorial for victims of 9/11

Posted at 9:59 PM, Sep 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-11 23:59:09-04

KAYSVILLE, Utah -- Utahns came together Sunday to remember one of the worst attacks on our nation in history.

In Kaysville, families visited a memorial that honors the three 9/11 victims from Utah.

The semi-circular wall at the University of Utah Botanical Center features bronze plaques that also pay tribute to the Utah soldiers who died in the wars following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A bronze statue of a firefighter holding a child serves as a symbolic nod to first responders and their role in protecting the future.

Margaret Wahlstrom teared up as she watched parents and children walk around the memorial site on Sunday.

"It just goes to my heart," she said, choked up. "It truly goes to my heart to see that."

The faces of her mother-in-law, Mary Alice Wahlstrom, and sister-in-law, Carolyn Beug, smile from the bronze engravings.

The mother and daughter died on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. They were supposed to be returning home to Kaysville from Boston. The third Utah victim, Brady Howell, died in the Pentagon when a plane crashed into the building.

Those who stopped by took a few moments to remember those stories from September 11, 15 years ago.

"It's part of our life now," said Syracuse resident Shane Pehrson. "It's changed all of our lives ever since that day."

Pehrson, his wife Becky, and their three children spent the day talking about 9/11 and watching news stories from that day. Their oldest son, Nick, was just one year old when four planes crashed and the two towers of the World Trade Center collapsed. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.

Their other two children, Tyler and Austin, were years from being born.

"I thought, 'Oh, they crashed into the buildings,'" 12-year old Tyler said. "I didn't really know what happened."

He, like all other children his age, have no recollections to look back upon. Instead, they have to learn it and feel it through the stories of Wahlstrom, Beug and Howell.

"They died uncontrollably. They didn't even know what was happening, and it's sad," Tyler said.

His brother Nick echoed, "Seeing those pictures, reading those stories kind of brought it closer."

Parents at the memorial made sure the memory continued, by passing down the history.

"Teaching our children about that is important because that's what's going to keep us strong, that's what's going to hold us together," said Tricia Peterson, who visited the memorial with her husband Adam and three small children.

That's part of what touched Wahlstrom so deeply.

She said from loss, her family wanted to make a difference, especially for the youngest faces that gaze upon the photos. It's her hope that Mary Alice and Carolyn's legacy doesn't fade.

"This memorial from the very beginning was all about the next generation, and the generation after that," she said.

That message is evident, in the three themes the memorial focuses on: remembering the past, uniting together, and building hope for the future.