Beam from World Trade Center will be the focus of fire department's Sept. 11 memorial

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Stafford - posted Wed., Aug. 24, 2011
The West Stafford Fire Department's 9/11 Memorial is designed around a metal beam that was once part of one of the World Trade Center in New York City. Photos by Lauri Voter.
The West Stafford Fire Department's 9/11 Memorial is designed around a metal beam that was once part of one of the World Trade Center in New York City. Photos by Lauri Voter.

As the 10-year mark approaches since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, members of the West Stafford Fire Department are preparing to remember the events of that day by bringing a piece of history to Stafford.

Members of the WSFD and its Ladies Auxiliary will install a 9/11 Memorial on the front lawn of the WSFD, in time for a dedication ceremony planned for Sept. 11 of this year.

The Stafford community, through the efforts of the WSFD, has been bestowed with the honor of being one of only a few towns in Connecticut to receive an official 9/11 artifact.

It all started late in 2008 when WSFD Chief Joseph Lorenzetti said that he “became aware of the fact that the Port Authority of the New York and New Jersey was opening up a competitive application process for agencies looking to obtain an artifact from the World Trade Center.”

This compelled Lorenzetti to begin the application process, which includes writing a plan with a concept about how the WSFD was planning to utilize the artifact.

“One of the requirements was that the steel would be incorporated into a memorial that would be accessible to the public and visible to the public,” said Lorenzetti.

The application process has been lengthy and consisted of several steps. It all paid off when in December of 2010, the WSFD learned that it had submitted a successful application and would be awarded an artifact. In and of itself, that accomplishment is noteworthy. However, given the fact that in all, only 1,000 artifacts will be distributed from more than 17,000 applications submitted by agencies nation-wide, the Stafford community and the WSFD are elevated into a highly-coveted category.

“I got the award letter from the Port Authority that they had granted us the piece,” said Lorenzetti. On Feb. 27 of this year, Lorenzetti and a crew from the fire department traveled to New York City to visit John F. Kennedy International Airport and, specifically, the hangar in which all of the 9/11 artifacts are kept. Lorenzetti said that for “historical or investigatory purposes,” the Port Authority had stored a “significant” number of artifacts, including bicycles, bicycle racks, a police cruiser, an elevator motor, a fire truck, pieces of aircraft and several pieces of Twin Towers’ steel.

“That was a very humbling experience,” said Lorenzetti. “I would liken the atmosphere there to attending a wake.”

From the selection of artifacts, the WSFD was awarded a section of steel beam from the 20th floor of the south side of the north tower. At approximately 10 feet long, the beam weighs nearly a ton. The crew returned to Stafford with the steel, which it will incorporate into its memorial.

“The purpose of the memorial is so that people will simply remember,” said Lorenzetti, who explained that it will be implemented to honor everyone who died in all of the incidents that occurred that day.

Among the nearly 3,000 individuals who were lost 10 years ago were a Stafford couple, flight attendants Amy R. King and Michael C. Tarrou. They were on duty on Sept. 11, 2001, working together on United Flight 175, when that aircraft was crashed into the south tower. “It's for them, as well,” said Lorenzetti.

Lorenzetti designed the memorial and feels that it is unique but “stark.” “My aim has been to construct something that draws most of the viewers’ attention to the steel, rather than a fancy pedestal or fancy surrounding,” he said.

The memorial will be placed within a circular area, approximately 70 feet in diameter, which will include some benches and paving stones. The public will be able to visit the structure at any time, day or night. It will be illuminated by accent lighting.

There will be four panels built into the memorial – one will be a general dedication plaque for Sept. 11, 2001; one will acknowledge the fire department of New York; one will be engraved with names of the Stafford couple that perished; and one will have the names of committee members and supporters of the project.

Lorenzetti, members of the WSFD, and members of the WSFD Ladies Auxiliary are grateful for the in-kind services they have received toward the design phase of the project. They also appreciate the monetary donations that they have received thus far to help defray the costs of materials needed to construct the memorial. In support of the project, the auxiliary hosted fundraising activities such as a scrapbook crop and a recent pasta dinner. Donations are still needed and will be accepted by the WSFD.

Community members from all towns are invited to attend the dedication ceremony at the West Stafford Fire Department, located at 144 West Stafford Road, on Sept. 11, at 2 p.m. All fire departments in Tolland County are also invited to attend. Deputy Chief Comarella will serve as the master of ceremonies, the Stafford High School Madrigals will perform, Boy Scout Troop 8150 will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, dignitaries will be in attendance and a reception will follow the ceremony.

For more information about the memorial and to inquire about making donations, contact the West Stafford Fire Department at 860-684-3695.

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