2011-06-22 / Front Page

World Trade Center Beam Arrives In Wauseon

by Frank Bumb Special to the Buckeye


From left: Steven Kosinski, master sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps; Keith Czop, technical sergeant, U.S. Air Force; and Matthew Merzke, sergeant, U.S. Army, salute the flag that shrouds a piece of steel beam from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The artifact will become part of a memorial at the Fulton County Fairgrounds. Tradition dictates that anytime a part of the trade center is moved, it is draped with a U.S. flag.– photo by Frank Bumb From left: Steven Kosinski, master sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps; Keith Czop, technical sergeant, U.S. Air Force; and Matthew Merzke, sergeant, U.S. Army, salute the flag that shrouds a piece of steel beam from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The artifact will become part of a memorial at the Fulton County Fairgrounds. Tradition dictates that anytime a part of the trade center is moved, it is draped with a U.S. flag.– photo by Frank Bumb Passing through a salutatory arch of crossed fire towers, a piece of the World Trade Center arrived in Wauseon, Friday evening, June 17.

The one-and-a-half ton, 20-foot steel beam, draped with the American flag, entered Biddle Park under an arch formed by extended ladders of aerial trucks from the Archbold and Morenci (Mich.) fire departments.

The procession escorting the beam included fire engines and representatives from fire departments throughout Fulton County.

Bittersweet

During the ceremony to commemorate the arrival of the artifact, Jerry Dehnbostel, Wauseon mayor, described the occasion as “bittersweet.”

He bemoaned the lives lost during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, while honoring those “who, with no thought to their own safety, rushed into the burning towers to aid their fellow man.”

The beam, Dehnbostel said, represents those first responders while also representing “every American who wants to stand on their rooftops and shout that they are proud to be an American.”

James Barber, Fulton County Common Pleas Court judge and the keynote speaker, spoke of how the beam was “the skeleton, the support of the American experience.”

He told the story of the journey of the beam not only from New York, where it was part of the north tower of the World Trade Center, to Wauseon, but from the iron ore mines of Minnesota, to the “steel mills of Pittsburgh and Youngstown.

“This beam was perfectly placed by architects and ironworkers, high above the New York commercial district. It was supporting those two magnificent towers, just as we came to support each other,” Barber said.

Tim Sonnenberg, a military chaplain with the 180th Ohio Air National Guard, spoke of his time as a counselor for survivors and loved ones of victims of the attacks.

“This beam will allow the generation who remembers the attacks to answer the question, ‘Grandpa, what is that piece of metal,’ with an affirmation of how we came together that fateful day,” Sonnenberg said.

The Memorial

The rusted, gnarled beam came to Fulton County as part of a New York and New Jersey Port Authority initiative to distribute artifacts of the historic buildings to willing communities.

The artifact will be used as a centerpiece for a Fulton County memorial to the victims of the 9-11 attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

“The memorial is still in the planning phase,” said Rick Sluder, assistant chief of the Wauseon Fire Department.

“We knew what the dimensions and weight of the beam were. We knew it was a beam and not a column, but (Thursday, June 16) was the first time any of us had seen it.”

WFD firefighters traveled to New York City last week to retrieve their piece of history.

Firefighters also visited Ground Zero– the site of the towers– and surrounding firehouses.

“We were treated with the kind of hospitality that you would expect from small communities like Wauseon,” Sluder said.

The firefighters then began their journey home, making stops in Akron, Toledo, and other communities to share the beam.

The process of building the memorial is ongoing. The Wauseon Fire Department has turned to the Wauseon Area Foundation to handle the processing of donations and administration of the memorial project.

Under US law, no government funds may be used for the memorial. Donations must be from private citizens or entities.

“By using the Foundation, we get to use their nonprofit framework instead of setting up our own, which will save us time and money, to, hopefully, have the memorial fully up and running by Sept. 11 of next year,” said Sluder.

The memorial will be built on the Fulton County Fairgrounds.

For now, the beam is on display at the Wauseon Fire Department. It may be viewed by the public during normal business hours.

The artifact will also be displayed at events and festivals during the summer before being placed at its fi- nal resting place.

Once there, it will be a constant, silent reminder of that fateful day that saw the towers fall, and Americans rise together.

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