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Eagle Scout project leaves lasting Beaverton memorial to 9/11 victims

by: Submitted photo Southridge High School graduate David Griffin created a Sept. 11, 2001, memorial in Beaverton’s Memorial Park in 2002 for his Eagle Scout project.

When David Griffin considered his options for a service project on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout, he took the long view.

'I wanted to make a lasting impact,' he says.

Given the magnitude of the event that inspired his project - the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - Griffin's memorial monument in Beaverton's Memorial Park is well on its way toward fulfilling the Southridge High School graduate's goals.

It was nine years ago, just shy of a year after the airplane-driven catastrophes in New York City, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania claimed more than 3,000 souls, that Griffin's project was dedicated as a permanent addition to the park at Washington and Watson avenues between Seventh and Ninth streets.

The monument is a small, but elegant reminder of the day that shook America to its core.

A brass plaque features engravings of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers to the side and the Pentagon below, framing a simple sentiment: 'In remembrance of those who died in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. September 11, 2001.'

Below the marble-framed plaque is an array of red bricks on which those who donated funds toward the memorial had engraved with the names of those who died in the tragedies and heartfelt messages.

On a visit to his hometown this weekend, Griffin, now 27 and working as a math and chemistry tutor in Eugene, will take part in a low-key remembrance of the Sept. 11 tragedy at the memorial he designed and helped fund. The informal event will take place on Sunday from 1 to 2 p.m.

Reflecting on the decade that's passed since that fateful morning in 2001, Griffin - who was then a junior at Southridge and a Boy Scout with Troop 872 - says he sees it from two perspectives.

'Looking back on it, it seems like a lot has happened since then. Really, a lot has happened. But the 10 years came up faster than I expected,' he offers. 'That's longer than a third of my life.'

When he chose to take on the memorial as his Eagle project, time was not exactly on Griffin's side. Guidelines dictate that projects be completed before a Scout turns 18.

'I had a little under a year to complete my project, because I turned 18 on Aug. 12, 2002. I had a couple of months to figure it out,' he says. 'It was one of a number of projects that kind of opened up. I added it to the list, and that's the one I chose.'

He credits his mother, Esther Griffin, with indirectly inspiring the project.

In the immediate wake of the terrorist attacks, she was startled to see the name of her half-brother, who lives near New York, on the passenger list of one of the doomed flights.

'She was kind of freaking out,' David recalls. 'When more complete information was revealed, she realized (the victim) had a different middle initial' than her brother.

'I thought if someone is affected this far away, there are probably more in the area,' he says.

To help reconcile her feelings about the stranger she mistook for a relative, Esther bought a brick for the memorial and dedicated it to 'someone else's brother.'

'That kind of got the project started,' David says, 'as a tribute to everyone else.'

To raise the approximately $2,400 needed for the memorial, Griffin in the fall of 2001 planned and directed events including a car wash, bike-a-thon and three-day community donation garage sale. His efforts netted more than $1,600.

All told, Griffin says he, with the help of nearly 30 of his fellow Boy Scouts, invested 680 man-hours toward the fundraising and design that led to the memorial's construction.

Dedicated the first week of August 2002, the monument drew high praise from Griffin's Eagle Scout review committee in the Sunset Trail District. The Cascade Pacific Council newsletter included his work as one of the 12 'exceptional' Eagle projects out of 600 in the council.

'It was kind of a statement of, (this event) affected everyone,' he says. 'I wanted people to have some way to show our sympathy, or respect, to other people for their losses.'

David's mother, who still lives in Beaverton, says the 10-year anniversary is a time to remind people there is a special place nearby for those who'd like to reflect on the losses suffered on 9/11.

'We wanted a way to remind people that the memorial exists, and that it would be an appropriate place to go to remember the many lives lost on that horrific day,' she says. 'Up until just a couple of years ago, people were still leaving candles, flowers and notes at the memorial on Sept. 11.'

David says he would like to see his creation become an ongoing place of solace.

'I just hope people will be able to keep coming to memorial in 20 or 30 years from now,' he says.