COPING WITH the 9/11 TRAGEDY: How could the recent terrorist attacks affect your future?
Why do they hate us?

Print This Post

The brainstorming started as soon as Marco Menendez, a former L.A. Youth illustrator who teaches art at L.A. Youth, suggested commemorating the people who died in the terrorist attacks by building a "Día de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) altar. Such altars are traditional in Mexico on Nov. 1 to honor loved ones who have passed away. They may be placed on a grave or built at home.

The students who attended the L.A. Youth staff meeting on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2001, had tons of ideas for the altar.

"Let’s put all pictures of firemen, maybe forming a Statue of Liberty," suggested Lea Mouallem, 15, Marymount High School.

"Let’s put a guy carrying a world on his back with smoke coming from the world," suggested Jessica Roque, 16, St. Mary’s Academy.

"How about words, maybe a quote from the national anthem? Let’s show that this will not make our country fade away," said Ann Beisch, 15, Marymount High School.

After working on the altar, Danny Maryanov, 16, of Santa Monica High School said, " I felt like I was maybe helping a little bit. I was participating in a relief effort, maybe to relieve people’s minds."

Said Marco Menendez, "This is a really tragic thing that happened. I don’t know anyone who was not affected by it. And although the Day of the Dead is a light-hearted way of dealing with death, this altar is not to diminish or disrespect what happened on September 11, but it’s finding a way to celebrate life."

Also participating in building the altar were Jennifer Accolti-Gil, 15, Marymount High School; Jennifer Gottesfeld, 15, Beverly Hills High School; Hassan Nicholas, 18, West L.A. College; Dimelsa Palos, 16, California High School; David Tran, 15, Warren High School; Sharine Xuan, 14, South Pasadena High School. Sue Doyle, Libby Hartigan and Marco Menendez also contributed.