Summit to receive surviving piece of World Trade Center
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Most people, if asked, can recall exactly where they were the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when they heard the news of the horrific attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.
A decade later, local fire and emergency rescue personnel hope that the people of Summit County will be able to spend Sept. 11, 2011, gathered at a memorial constructed around a piece of steel saved from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.
“The 9/11 attacks were a symbolic attack on all of America,” Lake Dillon Fire Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher said. “Having this artifact here in Summit County I believe will help connect the residents and visitors here with the events that occurred back east and serve as a solemn remembrance of that tragic day.”
Summit Fire Authority officials, led by battalion chief Herb George, partnered with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to have the 4-foot by 4-foot by 1-foot piece of steel or concrete that was once part of the World Trade Center building sent to Summit County. The 500-pound tribute centerpiece is expected to arrive by the end of the week and, officials hope, will find a permanent home in a small memorial outside the High Country Training Center in the county commons in Frisco.
“We’re very fortunate to have this artifact – and that’s really what it is – on display here to remind us of the heroism and bravery of our fellow firefighters in New York City and of the horrific and senseless loss we all faced to some degree on Sept. 11,” George said.
Fire rescue officials involved with the project envision a small space near the training center with grass, rocks and a memorial that would feature a standing flagpole and the artifact from the World Trade Center.
But they still face the challenge of construction. Because the memorial will belong to the community, Summit Fire Authority officials hope it will come together by the combined effort of the community and are asking local tradesmen to contribute some time and work to help with the construction.
“Chief George has put out a request for skilled tradesmen who might be willing to contribute some labor to build this thing, maybe doing some metal work or relocating the flagpole,” Lipsher said. “We acquired this as a community memorial and we hoped that we might be able to get some help from the community.”
Remains of the World Trade Center, including the piece that will make its way to Summit County in the coming weeks, were saved in the days after Sept. 11 by New York and New Jersey Port Authority officials who thought the scraps might someday become part of a permanent memorial at ground zero.
In 2009, some of the pieces were selected to be used in the memorial in New York City and the port authority was faced with the question of what to do with the rest of the steel and concrete still stored in the John F. Kennedy International Airport.
In 2010 port authority officials began soliciting requests for smaller memorials to be built elsewhere with the remaining scraps. The response was overwhelming.
Requests poured in from all 50 states and five other countries, typically from fire departments, police departments and community organizations.
“There’s been tremendous interest,” port authority spokesman Steve Coleman said. “People from all parts of the country, whether they have a direct connection to 9/11 or not, want to feel connected to what happened that day and want to have a memorial so that their children and generations to follow will have some way to remember in their town.”
In the end, the surviving bits of the World Trade Center were sent out to over 1,000 groups, who promised to pay for the shipping and to ensure that the artifacts are displayed to the public. The Summit Fire Authority is one of 16 recipients in Colorado.
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