Healing Fields in Tempe honor the 9/11 deaths - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Healing Fields in Tempe honor the 9/11 deaths

September 11th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Healing Fields in Tempe honor the 9/11 deaths

By Josh Ortega
Staff Writer

A memorial that captures the horror that America witnessed 21 years ago is in its third and final day today. Sept. 11, at Tempe Beach Park.

The 21st annual Tempe Healing Field tribute is what Chairman Nick Bastian called an effort to not only memorialize victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks but also capture the unity that immediately followed.

“Some of the emotion that I’ve seen and felt, you really can’t describe it,” Bastian said. “We just want to make sure that people don’t ever forget what happened that day.”

In 2001, Bastian was living in Mesa and working as a residential Realtor when he woke up to a surreal moment on TV.

Like millions of Americans on that Tuesday morning, Bastian watched United Airlines Flight 175 crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Bastian said that moment still lives with him to this day and why he wants to remind people what happened, not just on that day, but in the days following, especially for those not born at the time – like his three teenage sons.

“It really just felt like our country came together as Americans,” Bastian said. “And that’s something that I’ll certainly never forget and I hope other people don’t.”

For the past 20 years, Bastian said people from all over the world have attended the Healing Fields memorial.

The Tempe Exchange Club planted one flag for each person that was killed that day – nearly 3,000, according to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City.

“If you have a loved one that was lost that day, we can actually show you where that person’s flag is,” Bastian said.

Past events have shown flags fill the crescent-shaped grass field at the heart of the Tempe Beach Park. That area primarily commemorates the victims inside the Twin Towers.

Smaller areas around the large field commemorates victims inside the Pentagon and inside the airliner that was crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

Bastian has chaired the Healing Fields Committee for the past three years and it’s the largest event the Tempe Exchange Club puts on.

The event costs approximately $30,000 annually to put up and store the 3’x3’ flags, Bastian said.

In years past, the impressive feat began with hundreds of volunteers showing up at 6 a.m. Sept. 9 and within an hour-and-a-half, a sea of green grass becomes a sea of flags.

It might look like clockwork repeated year-after-year, but Bastian said the organization puts a lot of work into the massive undertaking.

“There really is a lot of moving parts and we put a lot of hours into it,” Bastian said.

Located at 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe, the Healing Field is open to the public all day. A candlelight vigil will be held at 7 p.m. today and the public is welcome to join in reading the names towards the end of the ceremony.

The event officially ends with a “Stand Down the Field” tomorrow, Sept. 12, at 6 a.m., when volunteers are again needed to help in taking down the flags.

For more information, call Nick Bastian at 602-803-6425 or visit TempeHealingField.org.