Alex Aprea, 14, Sacramento
Alex, a freshman at Jesuit High School, has grown up in a world where airline passengers must remove their shoes and belts to pass through security lines at U.S. airports.
He has never known a time when fans could bring backpacks into concerts or baseball games without uniformed officers searching them for bombs and other weapons.
He has lived most of his life in a time of war.
Alex has studied the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in history books and read about them in media reports. But the day's significance really sank in two years ago, when he visited ground zero in New York.
There he met Lee Ielpi, who lost his son, a firefighter, at the site, and he witnessed a father's grief.
"I started thinking about my Eagle Scout project, and I knew I had to focus on this," Alex recalled.
When he got home, Alex began sketching a design for a memorial sculpture, and asked Ielpi to help him obtain a piece of steel from the wreckage of the twin towers to include in the structure. The project has been placed in Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento and will be dedicated at a ceremony today marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Alex also has organized a panel of speakers representing various religious faiths, including Catholics, Muslims, Mormons and Jews.
He hopes his efforts will have a lasting effect.
"I'm very proud and very happy about how it all came out," Alex said of his efforts. "I want people to take away the fact that, even though the attacks didn't happen here in California, they affected us all.
"It definitely affected me. I realize now that no matter how bad a day I'm having, it's not nearly as bad as those who lost lives and loved ones that day."
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