Artist Jorg Dubin was in Laguna Beach, 3,000 miles away, when New York was sent into a tailspin after two planes barreled into the World Trade Center 10 years ago.
Although Dubin felt connected on a human level to the atrocities and the aftermath, it didn't truly hit home for him until some of the wreckage showed up on his doorstep only a couple months ago.
"The initial reaction is remembering where you were on that day," he said.
At 11 a.m. Sunday, the city and Dubin will dedicate "Semper Memento," a 9/11 memorial at Monument Point in Heisler Park that utilizes two beams from the fallen twin towers.
His sculpture features two beams at an angle, anchored by a mirrored ball. The base is a pentagon-shaped field of grass, recognizing the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. A bit of the dirt is from Pennsylvania.
Dubin was chosen as the artist through a city public art competition. He made it down to the four finalists and won.
Through his work, Dubin reflected on the last 10 years. As he talked to others during the process, he continually heard stories and realized the sense of unity that 9/11 created.
"There isn't anyone that views (the piece) that doesn't connect on an emotional level," he said. "It really was a global event with far-reaching consequences and continuing tragedy all over the planet."
Mark Porterfield, a Laguna Beach resident and arts supporter, helped make the project come together.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have been releasing remnants from the towers to municipalities that would like to honor 9/11 victims.
The city hadn't heard back from the authority, so Porterfield offered to fly over there and check things out for himself.
"I just started working my sources and going around and trying to figure out who the right people were to talk to," he said.
Porterfield found them. He emailed them and called them. He didn't lose contact when he went back home, sending them postcards from beautiful Laguna Beach.
It must have worked because a couple months later, in April, the city learned it would receive some remnants.
City Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl spent weeks trying to find a shipper, and finally the beams arrived May 1. Poeschl and Porterfield both pointed out that Osama bin Laden was killed the next day.
Porterfield offered to underwrite the cost of the project so the city didn't have to use public funds.
He said 9/11 was an emotional day for him because he could have easily been among the victims. Porterfield works for Newport Beach-based PIMCO and has worked in the financial world for years, often entertaining at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World.
"The first time I saw the piece, I walked up and saw myself, and it sort of freaked me out," he said about "Semper Memento." "It's a moving experience. I say it easily could have been me, and there I was in the sculpture."
Dubin said the intention of the mirrored sphere is just that: reflection. People viewing it can literally see themselves within the beams, which remain in the same state in which they arrived.
He also didn't want to put it high up on a pedestal but instead at street level, where people could interact with it and touch it.
"It allows them to express and feel this piece on a really tactile level," he said.
The artist said he chose to leave the orange, oxidized beams alone. Almost like a living thing, the beams will evolve over time.
"I think that's part of the nature of this piece," he said.
Porterfield has already seen an example of someone connecting to it.
A friend told him the other day that he led a blind man to the sculpture. The man had gone down to the park and was trying to find the beams. His friend led the man to it and he quietly stood there, just feeling the fallen beams.