Sept. 11 Steel & Debris Find New Memorial Homes
On this Friday, in New York, cities, and towns across the nation, people will, once again, gather to remember that remarkable and painful page of the American history, the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Local New York coverage will be available here: at 8:30 AM, EST.
Since Sept.11, 2001, there has been a plethora of books, studies, investigations, analytical committee reports, documentary films, videos, and photographs that recorded events on that dark day in the city of New York, Shanksville, PA., and the Pentagon in Arlington, VA.
Presumably, there would be more to come as the pages of history roll forward along with the fading of memory.
For now, there is one subject that receives little attention from an at-large public, except those citizens living in far-flung towns, cities, and even other countries whose interests focus solely in preserving the mangled steel, charred to the point of unrecognizable debris found in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
These towns, cities, counties, states, corporations, and foreign countries want to honor the memory of lost lives with physical symbols of reminder.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey owns the pieces of steel structures of the World Trade Center (WTC), NYFD trucks and ambulances, NYPD cars, and a myriad of other debris found at the WTC site.
The pieces, once considered as evidence for wrongful death lawsuits, are now available to find new homes across the nation and in other countries.
While the steel is considered potential evidence in those cases, tests on the steel were completed in 2005.
The pieces are currently stored at the 80,000 square-foot Hangar 17 at Kennedy Airport. They are stored in controlled temperature and humidity to prevent any rust over these years.
“The best way we can honor the memory of those we lost on 9/11 is to find homes in the W.T.C. Memorial and in cities and towns around the nation for the hundreds of artifacts we’ve carefully preserved over the years,” said the Port Authority’s executive director, Christopher O. Ward.
The offered pieces would not include the iconic and familiar 200 pieces, which have been claimed by the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. The requests are open only to organizations, counties, cities, towns, and countries.
According to the Port Authority, there have been numerous requests arriving from across the nation and France asking for a piece of steel to commemorate Sept. 11.
There are about 2,000 pieces ranging in size available, though carting expenses will have to be picked up by the recipient.
The rubble does not include approximately 200 iconic pieces that will be displayed at the planned National September 11th Memorial Museum.
The Port Authority filled about two-dozen requests for debris in the past year, with a dozen more still pending.
Each request for a piece of the steel provides detailed explanation of the intended display. Once a request has been approved by the Port Authority and September 11 officials, it will then be sent to Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Federal District Court for the final approval to release the artifact. Judge Hellerstein determines whether or not the pieces of steel would be used as evidence.
The judge has since granted all requests and has given no indication he will do otherwise for the pending ones.
The examples of these requests provided some glimpses of the details and deference shown toward the Sept. 11 victims.
“All we need is a 1-foot-by-1-foot-by-4-feet tall piece of steel,” read a letter from the mayor and the president of a memorial in Glens Falls, N.Y. “It’s a small piece of steel to fill our big hearts.”
“The Saint-Etienne fire brigade would very much like to exhibit an artefact from the World Trade Center in order to pay tribute to the victims, civilian and fire fighters of the 11th September attack,” wrote Col. Yves Bussiere, of the regional fire department, France.
Among the pending requests are one from Las Vegas, where the Atomic Testing Museum wants a 79-inch piece to fit in its custom-made case, and one from Eastern Kentucky University, which requested a piece one and a half feet long.
Currently, there are other towns and cities across the nation waiting to come to pick up their piece of history or for the pieces to be sent to them, dependent on the approval of their requests. The steel is offered freely, but the recipients are expected to pay for the costs of transport.
The Port Authority hopes to generate more interest in the steel by advertising in various trade magazines before the public memory fades.
To most local New Yorkers, the events of Sept. 11 have left both physical scars to the cityscape and hidden emotional pain that will unlikely be forgotten.
This Friday marks the 8th year anniversary.
Note: The author had contributed to and participated in various local and national photography and video documentaries of Sept. 11, 2001, including the Museum of New York in 2007 Exhibit. Some of the author's works were reviewed and approved to be included in the permanent collections in New York and Washington D.C.
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