The healing fields at Tempe Beach Park are a place where friends and families gather to take a stand against fear, all while fighting back tears and suffering that center around the Sept. 11 attacks.
16 years ago, Donna Bird bid farewell to her husband Gary Bird, as he left for New York City to start his dream job as a risk manager.
“My husband died at the World Trade Center and he was the love of my life," Bird said. "He was honest, he was good, he was reliable. Whatever he said he would do he did. He was a tremendous professional thinker.”
Yet, all Bird has been thinking is how to cope with such a loss. She does, through reflection and remembrance.
“Always keeping a sense of gratitude, keeping things in proportion. I am so grateful for the 20 years that I had with Gary,” Bird added.
She isn't alone in her grief, as millions of Americans walk through the fields just like this, to show their respect.
“This weighs heavy on my heart in a way, because of the numbers of people who perished all at the same time,” she said.
While Bird knows this country proudly stands behind her, nothing will ever let her forget her loss.
“This is what I love: You can reach out and touch two flags, you can touch them all and then you can see on each particular flag that it represents one special person," she said.
Officials say as the four-day display of unity comes to a close, the memory of all those lives lost will live on both in Tempe and around the nation.