Thursday, September 12, 2013
Dover AFB firefighters unveil 9/11 memorial
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) -- The Eagle Firefighters' Association unveiled Delaware's first public 9/11 memorial on the 12th anniversary of the attacks at the Air Mobility Command museum here Sept. 11.
The memorial, which incorporates two pieces of steel from World Trade Center tower one, a rock from the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site and a block from the damaged portion of the Pentagon, makes Delaware the 50th and final state to have a public memorial. The steel was acquired through the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey World Trade Center steel program.
"It is amazing," said Rodney Coleman, the deputy fire chief with the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron. "We sent the original request to get the steel on Sept. 11, 2009. We received the steel on August 10, 2010, and after some setbacks, we are glad we finally finished it."
The memorial is a gift from the Eagle Firefighters Association to Dover Air Force Base.
"Having this memorial means (Airmen at Dover AFB) and the local community will be able to pay their respects," said Col. Randall Huiss, the vice commander of the 436th Airlift Wing. "With a significant event, such as Sept. 11, having the memorial here next to the AMC museum is important because it allows more people to pay those respects without the problems of gaining access to the base."
Originally, the memorial was slated to be built at the base firehouse, officials said, but the AMC museum was eventually chosen as the location.
"The change worked out for the best," Coleman said. "Having the memorial off base at the AMC museum allows for better connections. More people will be able to see this very important and emotional site."
The site went through many transitional phases throughout the four years of planning.
"We were not able to start the project until we had all the funds," said Aaron Weisenberger, a 436th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. "But, after some aggressive fund raising and businesses donating time, money and resources, we were finally able to break ground."
The groundbreaking of the site, which took place Aug. 15, caught the attention of Steven Saymon, a first responder from New Jersey during Sept. 11, 2001, and Philadelphia's 9/11 Memorial founder and president.
"I was doing some research the other night and came across an article from a local Dover newspaper," Saymon said. "I saw no mention of the Pentagon and I wanted to offer a stone from the Pentagon to the memorial at Dover AFB."
Saymon contacted a member of the Eagle Firefighters Association, and began coordination to get the vital missing piece to them.
"For them to have a block from the damaged portion of the Pentagon at a military base, to honor the sacrifices made by all of those since 2001, was important," Saymon said.
Saymon said he believes strongly in all the Sept. 11 memorials, which are now in all 50 states, as well as seven foreign countries. He said the memorials are a fitting reminder of the sacrifices that were made.
"The sacrifices I made pale in comparison to those who made the ultimate sacrifice," he said. "This memorial is in honor of all who sacrificed and those currently serving, not only in the military, but also as emergency responders around the world."