September 11, 2001 Memorial
On September 11, 2001 at 8:46 AM, the world we knew ceased to exist. A series of unprovoked attacks that day left 2977 innocent people dead, America changed and we changed with it. The lost represented citizens from over 90 countries around the world ranging in age from 2 to 85 and included a young Flight Attendant from Westport. More than 6,294 people were injured as a result of the attacks and to date over 1400 rescue workers have died as a result of their work at Ground Zero. It was the single largest loss of American lives on American soil since the late battles of the American Civil War over 150 years ago.
Following the attacks, Americans can together in ways we had not in generations, our collective grief and outrage polarized our united spirit. A renewed national spirit coalesced around a new national mantra “We will never forget”.
In 2009 The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey began making artifacts salvaged from the World Trade Center available to government and nonprofit organizations to be used as fitting memorials. These relics have made their way around the country and the world, fashioned into small shrines and monumental memorials including 6.8 tons of the steel from the World Trade Center that would be melted down and used in the hull of the United States Navy war ship USS New York (LPD-21).
September 9th, 2009, the Westport Fire Department made a formal request to obtain an artifact for the new fire station. On December 28, 2010 The Port Authority released a steel I beam identified only as I-0146a.
On March 8th, 2011, a dozen members of the Westport Fire Department made the journey to retrieve our steel from Hangar number 17 at the John F. Kennedy International Airport which served a repository for the artifacts that were destined to be part of the memorial museum at Ground Zero as well as memorials around the world. The cavernous hangar was softly lit and silent with a great American flag hanging at the rear. Throughout the hangar were scattered the shattered remnants of the colossal buildings. Some were immediately recognizable like the great fork shaped exterior columns of the Twin Towers or the bent, twisted and burnt hulk of a fire department ladder truck. Some were less recognizable but still bear the scars of the brutal violence that had given them their final shape.
“The beam”, was returned to Westport with little fanfare and was installed in the foyer of the Central Village Fire Station. Plans began to be formulated to construct a base and display the beam permanently in the foyer. Westport residents and civic groups made contributions to pay the cost of construction and they offered up ideas on how the beam might best be displayed. Overwhelmingly the mantra was “put it outside” and the project took on a slight shift in a different direction. To assist with new design we enlisted the help UMass Dartmouth Professor of fine arts Eric Lintala. Eric’s work on similar projects in the Southeastern Massachusetts area brought a new perspective and insight to the project.
The design is intended to a simple but powerful reminder of the events and of those lost. The primary focus of the memorial is for visitors to be able to touch the steel. Physically touching the steel has elicited varied reactions from individuals and is a unique opportunity to touch an object that bore witness to the historic event.
With a shift in the location the cost of the project rose significantly, however Dr. John Colletti stepped forward offering his assistance in raising the funds necessary to complete the project. With donations arriving in a slow steady stream from residents and civic groups and with the help of the Westport Highway Department the memorial began to take shape over the summer of 2014.
Firefighters test locations in front of the Central Village Fire Station
Westport Highway Department breaks ground on the memorial July 29, 2014
The massive concrete foundation being poured
Chief Legendre helps guide the Beam as it is installed on the foundation
Walkway ready for concrete
Bill Albanese and his son set the memorial base
The memorial is finished October 29, 2014
As you approach the memorial you will note the position of the steel, it is situated in a vertical orientation that intentionally mimics the towers of the World Trade Center with a slight skew. The walkway leads the visitor to a pentagon shaped landing. The base of the memorial is made of granite quarried in New England and is shaped and colored as the Pentagon.
The 5 Bronze plaques surrounding the base read as follow
In memory of those who fell
and those who carry on
across all cities and towns
across all generation
Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings but they cannot touch the foundation of America.These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve
~ President George W. Bush 2001
Dianne Bullis Snyder
American Airlines Flight 11
Flight 11 – 0846 AM South Tower
Flight 175 – 0903 AM North Tower
Flight 77 – 0937 AM Pentagon
Flight 11 – 1003 AM Shanksville, PA
WE will never forget
We remember the 343 firefighters killed in the 2 towers
The stone bench is meant to be a place for reflection. As you sit on the bench and face the steel the visitor is facing the site of the Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan some 864,670 feet away.