The Montgomery County 9/11 memorial in Rockville. (Michael Larabee/The Washington Post)
September 14, 2012

The date has faded, but the names are still bright. The 11 Montgomery County victims of the Sept. 11 attacks are memorialized in a quiet little park at the corner of East Jefferson Street and Maryland Avenue in downtown Rockville. Each is honored with a bench featuring a favorite quote, selected by family members, and a replica of his or her signature in a raised-weld inscription.

A small pavilion in the park bears a plaque commemorating the tragedy and the victims’ names. Artists Gene and Susan Flores designed the pyramidal covering of the pavilion to allow a beam of sunlight to fall upon the plaque each Sept. 11.  At 8:46 a.m. — the time the first plane struck the World Trade Center in New York — the sun illuminates the date “September 11, 2001” on the monument. As the sun continues to rise, the sunbeam slowly scrolls over each victim’s name. It’s a moving tribute.

This year, the sunbeam failed to reach the “September 11, 2001” on the plaque. Despite a cloudless sky eerily similar to that of 11 years ago, 8:46 a.m. came and no light entered the pavilion. The new Montgomery County Judicial Center Annex, being constructed across the street, now blocks the sun from the memorial until just after 9 a.m.  The construction appears to have reached its highest level, however, so one by one, each victim’s name was still illuminated on the memorial plaque.

There were only three of us, strangers to each other, in the park this past Tuesday morning. There was no official recognition of the events of 11 years ago. Sept. 11 seems to have become just another day in the fall calendar. But even though the date is no longer illuminated on the memorial, the names of 11 people continued to shine brightly. May they always do so.