Written by Scott Yanofsky
This is a story of the creation of the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan Beach at 15th Street/Valley Drive. Told by resident, MB Rotarian, and lead of the design team, Scott Yanofsky.
I remember waking up to my alarm clock which was set to radio news. The newscaster was reporting that a plane just hit the World Trade Center. It brought a reminder of when a plane crashed into the Empire State Building in the 1950’s. Out of curiosity, I turned on the tv. I saw the second plane hit the other twin tower. Surreal! This couldn’t be happening…on with my day. I headed off to a meeting in San Pedro to pull a building permit. While driving there, I listened to my truck radio and the news became more real. I arrived at my destination and went into the building department of the City Hall. People were huddled around a tv watching the devastating event in real time. Shaken, I drove home. When home, I called my parents in NY. My dad told me the city closed the Long Island Expressway in order to transport all of the injured people from Manhattan to hospitals on Long Island. There were none to transport.
Years after 9/11, I was asked by the Jewish Federation to help the LAPD Harbor station to build a 9/11 memorial. I did that. It wasn’t until years later after 9/11 that I found out that I knew people who died on that day. Casualties included Gary Lutnik, brother of Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnik. We attended the same high school and the Lutniks lived next door to my friend Jimmy in Brookville. Lutnik had hired a few classmates over the years. My friend Leo was one.
In Jericho, NY, where I grew up, there was a Volunteer Fire Department. One of the volunteer firemen, Glenn, witnessed what was happening at the World Trade Center. He was working in downtown Manhattan as an attorney. He left his office, went to help and lost his life in the rubble. Heroes, all of them!
Later, I read in the Beach Reporter that there was a meeting scheduled at the MB city hall to discuss the idea of a 9/11 memorial for the city. I attended the small, closed meeting. It started with the group introducing themselves. What I did not realize was that the meeting was ONLY for the city council members and officials. Whoops! I asked if I could stay and Councilman Mitch Ward, said “yes.” The 9/11 event touched me in a very strong and personal way. When I learned that I had an opportunity to help construct the 9/11 memorial in MB, I jumped at the chance. I put together a team to make it happen. The team included Pat Killen, Steve Oliker, Mark Brush, and Scott Yanofsky.
The memorial stands on the NW corner of Valley Drive and 15th Street in Downtown Manhattan Beach. Many people contributed to the development of the memorial. May it be a reminder, for decades to come, that we shall never forget.
By Scott Yanofsky, Manhattan Beach Resident and MB Rotarian