Morris Plains to receive steel beams from World Trade Center for memorial project
MORRIS PLAINS - They are the tangible, heart-wrenching remnants of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For nearly a decade, the twisted, jagged steel beams recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center have been archived and stored in an airport hangar at JFK Airport since the attacks.
Now, they are being parceled out by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to cities, towns, police and fire departments and other appropriate nonprofit groups throughout the nation and world for use in memorials.
One such section of warped steel obtained Thursday by groups in Morris Plains will become the centerpiece of a 9/11 memorial to be erected at the busy intersection of Routes 202 and 53. The project will get under way in coming months and the goal is to have it completed well in advance of Sept. 11, 2011, said Bob Webster, a Morris Plains fireman who is chairman of the memorial committee.
"Our town just thought it was important, especially coming up on the 10th anniversary" of the terroristic attacks, Webster said. "We want everyone to remember 9/11."
Morris Plains is among 81 entities in the nation, and one from Italy, that this year have received from the Port Authority pieces of steel salvaged from the felled Twin Towers, said agency spokesman Steve Coleman.
The Port Authority began accepting requests from public entities seeking the artifacts after the foundation that is building the World Trade Center memorial in Manhattan selected pieces of wreckage for use at the Ground Zero site, Coleman said.
There are 1,000 sections of steel of varying sizes left that are stored in an 80,000-square-foot hangar at JFK, he said. Within the past year, the Port Authority received more than 1,000 requests for WTC beams from groups in all 50 states and six foreign countries, he said.
So far, 82 of those requests have been filled. Of those, the Garden State had the most, 21, while New York had 16.
Itís unknown exactly how much steel ultimately would be given out, because some of the remaining sections are large and could be cut into smaller pieces, Coleman said.
The Morris Plains groups, which include the borough fire, police, rotary club and Minutemen EMS have been planning the project for the past year. A train station in town was used by commuters en route to the World Trade Center, and local emergency personnel were among those who responded in the aftermath of the attacks. A Morris Plains native, Eileen Marsha Greenstein, also was among 64 people with ties to Morris County who perished in the terror attacks.
The beam was trucked into Morris County Thursday on a flatbed donated by Joseph Sanzari Construction of Hackensack. New York City police, the Port Authority Police Department and New Jersey State Police assisted with escorts.
The Morris Plains section of steel contains three beams, each 22-feet, 8-inches long and still bolted together, though twisted into an 8-foot diameter.
These beams still bear the original markings of their placement during construction in the early 1970s, and show they came from 1 World Trade Center, (the North Tower), around the area of the 93rd floor near the impact zone of the left wing from the aircraft that was flown into it, Webster said.
"Folks can see the impact of the steel Ė itís bent, itís broken, burned," Webster said. "Itís about remembrance. Itís about unity. After 9/11, everyone came together. As we know, things move on and people forget. Weíre passing it on to our children."