The Car - 1975
The driver's side depicts the disaster and the heroes on that
day. The World Trade Center is shown as UA flight 175 hits the
South Tower. President Bush was at an elementary school that
morning. The picture depicts his aid telling him the South Tower
had been struck. Beneath the president, the crater of Shanksville,
Pennsylvania left by the crash of UA flight 93. The heroes of
Flight 93 will always be remembered for those famous words, "Let's
Roll". They prevented the plane from crashing into another mark in
Washington, D.C. Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon; the scene
shows the rescue efforts and damage from this cowardly act. The
courageous heroes of "9-11" are the New York Police Department, New
York Fire Department, city workers, iron workers, and all the other
agencies from around the country who sent aid. The New York City
skyline is next, with the memorable blue gauntlet of lights,
shining rays over a mile into the sky where the two towers once
The passenger's side of the car is a response to the terrorist
attacks. This scene represents our military with the quick and
decisive response we have become accustomed to. The bald eagle, our
national symbol of freedom and resolve, is shown with an array of
weapons that would strike back at the heart of the terrorists. The
aircraft displayed are the mighty B-52, an F-16, a Blackhawk
helicopter, an Apache helicopter, F-18 Hornets launching from a
carrier, and a submarine protecting the naval armada from below the
waves. "Star Wars" or Space Defense Initiative (SDI) depicts the
next generation of our nation's defense.
The car's trunk shows a series of reasons why terrorism breathes
- the transportation of illegal firearms, drugs, and money
laundering are all sources financing terror. The way to stop the
terror is to deal with the illegal dealings! The Grim Reaper
depicts the root of evil and the puppets of terror from Saddam to
The hood of the car is the spirit of Arizona. The Arizona state
flag on the hood embraces our leaders who helped in areas of aid
relief to the disaster sites. Our thanks to Governor Napolitano, Governor
Hull, Senator Kyl, Senator McCain, and not to forget the many
volunteers whom generously contributed in all aspects of rescue and
Richard A. Lopez does not want people to forget Sept. 11, 2001.
That's why the Northwest Side resident has turned his 1975
Chevrolet Nova into an artistic memorial and plans to display it at
Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Sept. 11. It will be
Lopez's second trip with the Nova to the Tomb of the Unknowns to
commemorate those who died during the terrorist attacks.
This trip also has additional meaning to Lopez, 53, a material
handler at Raytheon Missile Systems.
Lopez will commemorate the death of his father, Frank Romero
Lopez, a veteran of World War II and of the Korean War. The elder
Lopez died July 11. "My dad loved this country and he taught me to
love it, too," Richard said.
He said the "love and respect for the United States of America"
is portrayed in images on the car, which he uses as a teaching tool
for children through his nonprofit group Children's Second Chance.
Lopez founded the organization to combat substance abuse among
youth and used the Nova - covered with murals - to get his message
out at schools.
Today, through the work of airbrush artists Fred Spargo, Jaime
Rodriguez, Paul Collins and Nancy Garcia, events of Sept. 11, 2001
and after have been captured on the car's hood, side panels and
trunk. Lopez said he describes the images and the artists respond -
doing research and painting his thoughts.
There are vivid scenes that evoke emotion. The smoking towers of
the World Trade Center in Manhattan are painted on the front fender
on the driver's side. A flag-draped coffin on a rear fender
represents many coffins carrying loved ones crushed within the
mortar, bricks and steel columns of collapsed buildings.
Firefighters salute and fight back tears at funerals. Two steel
beams form a cross standing tall at Ground Zero.
Last week, at Arizona Fleet Rebuilders, 530 N. Seventh Ave.,
co-owner Mark Cleveland donated touch-up work on the car, putting
on a coating to protect the murals. "I think this work is
tremendous and it helps us not to forget," said Cleveland, 63.
Cleveland's son David, 25, added: "I remember when the attacks
first happened, people were driving around with flags on their
cars, and now the flags are gone. People need to remember."
Lopez said he cannot forget. He said he learned about patriotism
from his father, who died at age 83."My father was a bartender and
boxer. He was born in Hayden and enlisted in the Army during World
War II," Lopez said.
Lopez's father was a foot soldier in the Philippines and
survived a bullet that went through his helmet, a fragment lodging
in his neck. Frank Romero Lopez received a Purple Heart and a
During the Korean War, Lopez's father enlisted again - this time
in the Marines.
Lopez said he didn't really get close to his dad until the last
four years of his dad's life. They reconnected in 2000. "My father
left the family when I was 9. I didn't understand many things until
we reunited and he shared stories about the death he saw in war and
how it changed him," Lopez said.
Lopez learned that his father's arms and mind had gone through
too much. During combat, he cradled soldiers who died in his arms.
Back at home, he held a 6-month-old son, "Little Ray," who died in
his arms in the late 1940s. This, explained Lopez, turned his
father into a cold man who spent much of his life wandering,
resulting in a lifetime without getting to know his living son.
But Lopez said he got a chance to understand his father, and
they made their peace.
He said he will honor his father at Arlington National
when he commemorates those who died during the 9/11 attacks three
years ago. He also will remember and pray for the fallen soldiers
in Iraq, those who are coming home without limbs or are burned and
Lopez said he will pray for those who remain in Iraq - in a war
that he believes his necessary.
"Freedom is not free," said Lopez. "We all pay a price, and some
pay with their lives."
Carmen Duarte, Arizona Daily Star - Aug. 24, 2004
Help support Memorial
44 page, 8 1/2 x 11
Full Color Pictures
Recounting Tragic Events Since 1968
Memorial On Wheels