When a community comes together for a common purpose, great things can happen.

Memorials bring comfort to a community.

In light of the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, last week, I wanted to dedicate this week’s column to those affected by this tragedy.

When tragedies happen, people with no physical connection to the event want to reach out and connect with those who do. Whether it is in the form of monetary assistance, written expressions of grief and sympathy, or simple silent compassion, I believe it is the natural human instinct to want to reach out and connect on some basic level.

For the victims, the physical and emotional wounds are still fresh and are not likely to heal any time soon.

I’m sure that after some time has passed, a memorial will be erected to honor those who lost their lives or were injured. While I personally have no connection to anyone affected by this tragedy, I couldn’t help but think about what I would propose if I were on a committee to design this memorial.

Traditional memorials come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. Whether it is something as simple as a plaque, a tree planted in a public space, a water feature, or a memorial garden, the intent is to honor the victims of that tragic day.

In the summer of 2007, exactly five years ago today, two news helicopters were covering a high-speed chase through the streets of Phoenix when they collided over a city park and crashed, killing everyone on board both helicopters.

One year to the day following the crash, a concrete memorial depicting the images of the four who died was erected near the crash site.

When I think about national memorials, the first that comes to mind is the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. I have yet to visit the memorial in person, but I believe, from looking at the photographs I have seen, the design team truly honored those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center site in both 1993 and 2001.

Last year, the memorial was dedicated on the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, and on September 12, 2011, the memorial was opened to the public. Three months after it’s opening, over 1 million people had visited the site.

While it is still too early to know how those who were injured or lost their lives will be honored in Colorado, I believe that whatever is decided upon, it will be respectful and sufficient. I believe the victims are owed that at the very least.

It is also my hope that family members and survivors will have input in the final design of the memorial.

Have you ever visited a memorial that has left an impression on you? Have you ever had the opportunity to work on a memorial project? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: