Twisted, Rusted I-Beam Helps Town Remember September 11
Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix
September 10, 2010
When Evans, 39, of Mount Laurel, heard of the opportunity to obtain some of the salvaged steel last summer, he wrote to the Port Authority. A Port Authority official phoned the station house last month to say officials could pick up the beam.
The township, which was also granted a smaller beam to be displayed at a planned monument at the Mount Laurel Memorial Park ball fields, dispatched a utility truck with a crane to a hangar at Newark Liberty International Airport, where the beams designated for Jersey were being held.
When it reached the station Aug. 27, about 10 firefighters hoisted the 800-pound beam onto a furniture dolly to pull it inside to a space in their engine bay.
“Every time you go by, it takes you back nine years,” Evans said.
For him, it was remembering that “gut-dropping feeling” when he and other firefighters watched on TV as the first tower fell.
“And then the silence afterward,” he said.
Firefighter Martin Gaynor, 27, who was a freshman at Mercer County Community College on 9/11, remembers visiting ground zero in the months after the attacks. He said it was something else entirely to see a piece of the devastation up close.
“Look at it,” he said. “It is as twisted as a twisty tie off a bread bag.”
Lt. Kathleen Kirvan, 44, has stared at the beam, imagining the larger story connected to it, she said.
“You look at it and wonder, ‘Where was it?’ " she said. “What building was it in? What floor was it holding up? Who was near it?”
Station 362 is planning a permanent memorial to be completed by the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Evans said.
One plan calls for 343 bricks to hold the beam in place – one for every fallen firefighter.
Firefighters will raise money to complete the project, Evans said. People can contribute at www.mountlaurelfire.com
At Thursday’s ceremony, rows of firefighters and a crowd of residents stood in rapt attention as a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”
Afterward, Jacque Arnal of Cherry Hill took her 9-year-old son, Max, who was 4 months old on the day of the attacks, to look at the beam.
He reached out his hand to touch it, cautiously, as if it could still be burning.
“Mommy, is this where the plane hit?” he asked.