From its cave-dwelling infancy to the greatest accomplishments of the 21st century, art has recorded the entire history of civilization.
Etchings, paintings, sculptures and written poetry all ensure that people, places and experiences - for better or worse - are never forgotten. At the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, there are all types of galleries displayed in prominent locations, offering a chance to make sense of the tragedy. Yet distinct from these exhibitions - monuments in their own right - are the humble artifacts designed for a much smaller audience.
A red maple tree at Southwestern Central School it a tribute to Lance Cpl. Aaron Swanson, who died in Afghanistan.
A memorial garden has been arranged outside the front of Southwestern Central School in honor of Amy King, who died on Flight 175.
Dayne Priester is pictured kneeling next to a memorial for Amy King in Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron.
P-J file photo
A pair of veterans in dress uniform salute a monument to J.C. Matteson in Busti.
Veterans salute a monument to Charles Cooper in Lakeview Cemetery at its dedication.
The scoreboard at Sgt. Kevin W. White Memorial Field was unveiled Saturday.
Photo by Jenna Loughlin
This past Memorial Day presented a choice opportunity for local recording artist Jackson Rohm.
On stage at the Celoron Park bandshell, he took the significance of the solemn holiday to relate a personal story to the audience.
Then he began performing "To Amy, With Love." The crowd included the family of Amy King, a 1989 graduate of Southwestern High School, who was a flight attendant on United Airlines flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center.
"It is probably the most personal song I've ever written," said Rohm, as he recalled how he committed the lyrics to paper on Sept. 11, in the hours after it was confirmed that Amy was one of the day's victims.
The next day, Rohm said he was scheduled to begin recording his third album, and he took the time to play his first rendition of the tribute and send a digital copy to her family back in Western New York.
"It was a way for me to cope with the loss," he said. "I have always known her family, but it brought us closer together, I think, that they could relate to what I was feeling. Writing that song was as important to them as it was for me."
Rohm is also a member of the Southwestern class of '89, one of about 160 students, and he said Amy is remembered as a bright and friendly girl who was respected and well-liked in the community.
"I was able to channel my emotions into a song, and hopefully some of her friends and even people who don't know her can relate to what we were going through," he said.
Since 2001, Amy's friends and family have collaborated with other tributes, including the annual Amy King 5k Run held each November.
Tom Priester, her former high school track coach, is a participant-turned-facilitator of the event.
"I think of her all the time. She was a unique person - she could change a grumpy old man like me into somebody that would smile and forget about what I thought was so important," he said.
Priester added, "I get to see the same people - and every year I get to see people you don't know. It's an amazing thing how many kids and adults continue to support this thing."
Rohm is one such runner who makes an annual appearance, and he said the upcoming event may have special significance for those that new her.
"I thought to myself, how fitting would it be if i could pull out a win at her race on the 10-year anniversary? So I'm training the best I can to make that effort," he said.
A simple crafted plaque or landscape feature can endure as a silent memorial.
On the Jamestown Community College Campus a memorial tree bears Amy's name, honoring the 1991 graduate, and another memorial garden has been arranged outside the front of Southwestern Central School.
"I taught there and my grandkids go there," said Tom Priester. "Sometimes I have to drop something off at school and I go take a look at the garden and it brings back some good memories."
Sgt. Kevin White, who was killed May 2 while serving in Afghanistan, was honored Saturday in his native Westfield.
His father Paul announced that the North Lake Family Recreation Center has named one of its soccer fields as the Sgt. Kevin White Memorial Field.
"Our whole family has been involved with North Lake for many years. I have been on the board of directors ... all my kids have played soccer there for many years," he said, adding that the date coincides with the Westfield varsity soccer team's opening game.
"Kevin has wanted to join the military long before Sept. 11.," his father said. "It had been something he wanted to do ... but he knew when he joined that it was a time of war and he would most likely be deployed. And he wanted to do his part."
He added that Kevin did his first tour in Iraq, re-enlisted while he was still there, and started his second tour in Afghanistan in early 2011.
In June, Southwestern Central School introduced a red maple as a tribute to Lance Cpl. Aaron Swanson, who died Feb. 7, 2011, in Afghanistan while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps. School Superintendent Daniel George called it "a fitting, living tribute to a life cut short."
A black granite monument stands near the junction of Forest Avenue and Busti-Stillwater Road in the hamlet of Busti, a tribute to Army Staff Sgt. James "J.C." Matteson.
He succumbed to combat injuries sustained in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004 - the first local victim of the War on Terror.
''He died a hero ... fighting,'' his mother, Joyce Reynolds, said during Matteson's funeral. ''America and the world have a choice to lie down and surrender to terror or stand and choose to fight. Our family chose to stand and fight ... we will not waver, we will not falter. We will see this through.'''
''He was always faithful, right to the end,'' said his father, James Matteson. ''He was worried about his men in Iraq -his duty to his men ... that's my boy.''
On somber national holidays, services are held around other town or city memorials throughout the county, accompanied by the playing of "Taps," and veteran salutes.
Participants invoke the names of Pfc. Charles Cooper, who was killed in April 2005 in Iraq.
Four days after his high school graduation, Cooper enlisted in the U.S. Army and was proudly serving with the Third Brigade of the Fort Drum Mountain Division. He received two Purple Hearts - for an earlier attack and the one that ultimately cost his life - and a Bronze Star in recognition of his sacrifice to his country.
"Charlie was a son, and a good one,'' said Joe Yelich, Jamestown High School principal, during Cooper's eulogy. ''He was a brother, and a good one. He was a friend, and a good one. He was a student and a good one. He set his sights on graduation and he made it - I know this because I handed him his diploma last June."
Also among the county's roll of fallen heroes is Army Spc. Philip Witkowski, a former resident of Fredonia and a casualty in Afghanistan from 2004; and Pfc. Patrick W. May in 2008, who was a resident of Jamestown and a past student of Cassadaga Job Corps Academy.
WHAT THEY GAVE
New generations will remember the sacrifices of others.
Proceeds from Amy's 5k Run, golf tournament and related fundraisers are used to replenish the "All for Amy" scholarship at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. CRCF Director Randy Sweeney said the particular award bearing Amy's name provides assistance to students from area high schools, as determined by the wishes of her family.
"When we sat down them, their goal was to identify that student each year that represented Amy," he said. "They have done a tremendous job to continue to raise money for the fund."
He added the scholarship "provides for friends or family an opportunity to find some positive in a very serious loss in their life. We are honored to be asked to help family and friends with an endowment fund."
In the following years, the families of Swanson, Cooper and Matteson have established their own awards.
Said Sweeney: "Even as years pass, there may not be individuals in the audience that will remember these people or the family individually, but they will be recognized for what they did and what they gave - in the form of their lives - so the rest of us could enjoy freedom."