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WTC memorial to be complete this weekend

Janice Kurbjun
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox A steel artifact from the World Trade Center will be the centerpiece of a new 9/11 memorial at the High Country Training Center in Frisco.
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Earlier this week, firefighter Colin Prol and captain Mathew Benedict of Red, White and Blue Fire District welded I-beam sections to steel plates embedded in a concrete base at the High Country Training Center at County Commons.

They were preparing the memorial site to be dedicated this weekend, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks along the East Coast.

“This memorial reflects the whole nation’s remembrance of 9/11,” Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher said. “It’s frankly unremarkable. But it’s symbolic because the 3,000 people killed that day were everyday, normal people. There’s a certain poignancy in the simplicity of the artifact.”

As Prol carefully measured the I-beam locations and used a level to ensure each piece stood upright, Benedict helped maneuver the pieces to where they needed to be.

“Beyond the obvious reason of having a piece here, it helps our firefighters know what they’re working for and know the sacrifices made by other people,” Benedict said. “When they see the artifact, they think about the sacrifices made that day and since then.”

Benedict and Red, White and Blue’s Herb George worked together to design the memorial, which displays the artifact – a 4-foot long, 1-foot wide, 500-pound steel structural piece – in a 360-degree, interactive display. It’s surrounded by four I-beams that represent the four planes that fell on Sept. 11, 2001, used to hit the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

The ground below the memorial is concrete, carved into a Maltese cross, which symbolizes honor, courage and dedication – characteristics of the ideal firefighter. Behind the artifact, three metal cutouts further represent the sites affected by the attacks: a silhouette of the World Trade Center with the number 343 for those firefighters killed in rescue missions, an outline of the Pentagon and a cutout of the state of Pennsylvania.

“We made our best guess of how the artifact was oriented,” Benedict said, so it’s to be mounted vertically in the center of it all, next to the existing flag pole. It’s to be lit with four lights attached to the four pillars.

As one of 16 recipients in the state of Colorado (among many more career and volunteer entities nationwide), those in the Summit Fire Authority are proud to have an artifact at their home base.

“My hope is it’ll be standing there 100 years from now,” Red, White and Blue battalion chief Herb George said. “There’s a lot of sentimental and professional feeling of pride and honor having a piece like that here in Summit County.”

It all began in 2009, when pieces of the World Trade Center ruins were made available to emergency response agencies nationwide. Each entity had to explain how their artifact would be used, and through the application process, more than 1,000 groups were chosen to receive pieces to create their own memorials.

Other pieces remain in storage, to be used in the New York City Memorial, planned for Ground Zero.

In Summit County, firefighters in the Summit Fire Authority sought their own commemorative piece. George discovered the opportunity, and Benedict applied his landscape architecture degree to conceptualize the memorial’s design. The High Country facility was selected.

“It means a lot to the firefighters and all the emergency responders. More than you know,” Benedict said.

But he and George aren’t the only ones who contributed. Several firefighters donated their time to bring the memorial to fruition, and local businesses lent a hand through materials, equipment and manpower donations. The philanthropic group included Columbine Hills Concrete, Prol’s Summit Fabrication, Cook’s Welding and electrician Bill Pike.

“I remember it was something I thought, as a training center, what an amazing piece to have in place for our firefighters who pass through those gates every week,” George said. “That your job is important … and that there is a price to pay. It is a dangerous job. There would be no better way to keep that upfront in our firefighters minds especially as they’re training.”

The memorial is to be unveiled Friday before its dedication and a reception on Sunday morning.

The Sunday event, planned by Red, White and Blue firefighter John Zeising, is meant to dedicate the newly constructed memorial as well as remember the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

“My primary goal was to focus on not forgetting the attack on our country that happened 10 years ago and (to) honor all who died that day and who have died over the last 10 years fighting the war on terrorism,” Zeising said.

The event at the High Country Training Center at Frisco’s County Commons begins at 9 a.m. with a Flight for Life flyover and landing at 8:55 a.m., followed by keynote speakers George, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue chief Dave Parmley, retired U.S. Army soldier Tom Torres and agency chaplain Ken Rice. It also includes a rendition of “Taps” played by a Summit High School student and songs by three singers. Zeising hopes to open the podium to anyone at the event who wants to share remarks.

“We wanted to not only dedicate this new memorial, but also have some words and songs that speak to the United States and our resolve against this happening again,” Zeising said.

The public should plan to arrive at the event no later than 8:45 a.m., officials said.


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