There have been many memorials to the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but few hold the emotional power as those that include artifacts from the sites of the attacks.
The Eagle Firefighters Association, a non-government sponsored, non-profit organization whose membership includes the men and women manning the fire station at Dover Air Force Base, have arranged such a memorial, to be unveiled Wednesday, Sept. 11, the 12th anniversary of the attacks.
"Our deputy fire chief knew how through the New York and New Jersey Port Authority there was a program where steel and artifacts from the World Trade Center could be made available to public emergency organizations," said organization President Aaron Weisenberger.
The memorial, which includes two steel beams from near the 81st floor of the North Tower, a brick from the Pentagon and rocks from Shanksville, Pa., the crash site of United Flight 93, will be installed at the Air Mobility Command Museum, south of Dover AFB.
The museum was chosen so that people without access to the base itself could come to the memorial, Weisenberger said.
Work to obtain the steel beams began in 2009, but was held up because Port Authority officials wanted to ensure enough funding would be available to actually complete the planned memorial, Wiesenberger said.
The group learned it would need at least $20,000 in cash to fund the memorial, and managed to raise that amount by selling memorial bricks and taking in donations.
In August 2010, a group of Eagle firefighters went to a warehouse at John F. Kennedy Airport, and brought the steel beams to Dover.
Design and planning work continued, with numerous local companies contributing time and resources to the project.
So far, none of them have asked to be compensated for the work, Weisenberger said.
"It's just amazing," he said. "I've seen 20 people working out here, donating their time when they could have been out doing paying jobs. That just shows how everyone wanted to step up and make this happen.
"Without their efforts, there's no way we could have made this a reality."
The memorial will sit near the museum's flagpole in its Commemoration Park. In addition to the World Trade Center beams, Pentagon brick and Sharpsburg rock samples, it will include a black polished compass with pointers showing the direction of all three 9/11 locations. It will be illuminated 24 hours a day.
Other than being treated to prevent rust, the 8-foot and 10-foot beams remain unchanged, as the Port Authority forbids their being modified in any way.
"The hard work is done, and now it will be nice to sit back and see people visit the memorial," Weisenberger said. "So many people come to the museum to see the planes, but now they'll come across our memorial, and because of that it will be a place where people can come and remember that solemn day."