A Working Memorial in Arkansas Twenty Years After 9/11

For the witnesses of September 11, 2001, it is hard to believe it has been twenty years now after those shocking and horrific morning hours when the United States was attacked.  Since that time, we have spent twenty years hunting down those responsible, waging war on terrorism, grieving, rebuilding, and building memorials.  There are countless memorials across the nation and the world commemorating those who died that day.  The memorials celebrate the lives, the heroes, and the legacy of those lost. However, in a small town in northeast Arkansas, one memorial serves as a reminder of the loss of one of their own and functionally serves the community. 

While most memorials remember the person, the moment, or an event, the memorial to Sara Low serves the community as a dog park.  Sara Low was a native of Batesville, Arkansas.  Batesville is the oldest city still operating in Arkansas, and it was the home where Low grew up.  She attended school in Batesville, her family worked and lived there, and she left to work for the airlines.  On September 11, 2001, as her parents watched Sara’s beloved cat at their home in Batesville, Sara, at just 28 years of age, boarded a flight as a member of the crew of Flight 11 from Boston to California. 

In the aftermath of the attacks, it is believed that Sara worked to help passengers remain calm on the flight, but she is also credited with providing the telephone calling card used to give important information to the ground.  Later as America moved to find those responsible, Sara’s wings were sent to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. So while Sara could do no more after September 11 for her country and citizens, her wings were carried into the battles against terrorists as a reminder to the troops and as a small way she could continue to make a difference.

In February of 2020, the city of Batesville broke ground on a project for their own memorial for Sara Low and September 11.  Sara had a long history of love for animals.  She was known to take in strays, help them, and care for them as a child.  Her parents and the community decided that they wanted a functioning memorial.  They wanted something to celebrate Sara, her love of animals, and to serve the community where she was raised.  The groundbreaking was the first step in the building of what would become The Sara Low Memorial Dog Park. 

Today the park can be visited along the walking path near Riverside Park.  The Sara Low Memorial Dog Park has been featured nationwide in articles, news reports, and shows.  It is built with rock from Batesville with sitting spaces, off-leash areas for dogs, and other amenities associated with a park to serve dogs and their owners. 

For a  community that still mourns Sara Low after twenty years, the park serves as a reminder that the good of the many people that died on September 11, 2001, can never be forgotten or taken for granted.  Sara Elizabeth Low will forever be remembered as one of the victims of 9/11. However, because her kind heart and love for animals has been recognized by the community where she was raised, a memorial will serve generations of animal lovers in her honor.  Those who never knew Sara will know about her through the park.   Today, we should remember the people, like Sara, and remember they were all individuals.  For Sara Low, her positive qualities will live on thanks to the community and a small dog park located along the White River in a small Arkansas town.  

Stone inscription:

This dog park is named in honor of Batesville native Sara Elizabeth Low. Throughout her youth, she was known for her kindness and helpfulness to others. Sara carried these traits through adulthood and was remembered for them by fellow crew members and passengers when she became a flight attendant for American Airlines. These traits were demonstrated most profoundly on September 11, 2001 when she put others before herself and whatever fears she may have had. Sara worked with crewmates to calm concerned passengers and provide key information to authorities. She died as she lived — kind, helpful, and strong.

Sara’s kindness and helpfulness also extended to animals. As a child, she delighted in playing with the stray animals that showed up at Midwest Lime Company. After college, Sara returned to work with her father at MWL and, once again, cared for strays. She ensured that they received care from a veterinarian and was diligent in finding them homes. Delilah, a beautiful black cat that showed up one day at the quarry, became her beloved pet.

This love for animals is shared by her family, and the grief of their journeys to New York in the years since 9/11 has been tempered by visits to dog parks near ground zero. It is the hope that this special space in Sara’s hometown will bring joy to the dogs of Batesville, their owners and perhaps the same healing happiness to passers-by.

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