When Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh stepped to the podium last Friday to begin the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newest addition to the city’s park system, he was greeted with not only lots of cheers from the crowd, but also plenty of excited barks.
The mayor, local dignitaries, and a few canine friends were presiding over the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Sara Elizabeth Low Memorial Dog Park.
A large, rolling section of the Batesville Parks system that sits across from Riverside Park and the municipal golf course, the park is a memorial to Low, the Batesville native who died serving as a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11, 2001.
Designed by Batesville Parks Director Jeff Owens, the park’s completion was due to the fundraising efforts of many throughout the community, in particular, local pharmacist Steve Bryant, as well as from the contributions and efforts of other local businesses and city departments.
The project was completely funded by donations from the general public, Owens said at the ceremony.
The park features two sections: one for small dogs and one for large dogs; plenty of room to roam and run; and water fountains for both dog and owner.
Alyson Low, Sara’s sister, also spoke at the ceremony, detailing her sister’s longtime love of animals and the comfort they provide.
“This space represents joy, and companionship, and love — all of which play such an important role in quality of life for both two and four-legged critters. This dog park will be a wonderful new asset to our hometown and the opportunity that it provides for both fresh air and cheerful interaction for both dogs and their people.”
“It’s also meaningful because it’s a reminder of a bright spot in the shadows of lower Manhattan that has given my parents and me an emotional respite after the memorial ceremonies at Ground Zero,” said Low.
“On our walk back to the hotel, we stop at a dog park along the promenade by the Hudson River, and watch the dogs romp in the shallow pools, play keep-away with tennis balls, and do what dogs do best: exist in the moment with a purity of heart. It’s always helped lift our mood and remind us of the good things in life. And the good things in life would still be very much wanted by Sara for us all — her family, her friends, and her hometown.
“It’s my family’s hope that for those who happen to pass by on a day when the shadows in their lives are long, a glance at the dogs rolling in the grass and running with abandon will be a bright spot for them as well.
“It’s a fitting, dynamic, happy tribute to her and to all of those who were lost on Sept. 11 and the celebration of a pet so many of them loved and laughed at. How wonderful to see our hometown constantly outdo itself, providing special experiences for its residents.
“In the memory of Sara Elizabeth Low…enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!”
The park features a 4,000-pound memorial stone from Bethesda engraved with these words:
This dog park is named in honor of Batesville native Sara Elizabeth Low. Throughout her youth, she was known for her kindness and helpfulness to others. Sara carried these traits through adulthood and was remembered for them by fellow crew members and passengers when she became a flight attendant for American Airlines. These traits were demonstrated most profoundly on September 11, 2001 when she put others before herself and whatever fears she may have had. Sara worked with crewmates to calm concerned passengers and provide key information to authorities. She died as she lived — kind, helpful, and strong.
Sara’s kindness and helpfulness also extended to animals. As a child, she delighted in playing with the stray animals that showed up at Midwest Lime Company. After college, Sara returned to work with her father at MWL and, once again, cared for strays. She ensured that they received care from a veterinarian and was diligent in finding them homes. Delilah, a beautiful black cat that showed up one day at the quarry, became her beloved pet.
This love for animals is shared by her family, and the grief of their journeys to New York in the years since 9/11 has been tempered by visits to dog parks near ground zero. It is the hope that this special space in Sara’s hometown will bring joy to the dogs of Batesville, their owners and perhaps the same healing happiness to passers-by.
Engraving by Engelhardt Monuments