WAUSEON — To Dawn Hamer of the Lyons Royalton Fire Department, a yet-to-be-built memorial at the Fulton County Fairgrounds will “be like a little getaway in the midst of everything.”
Ground will be broken on the tribute site on April 12. The memorial will feature a piece of structural steel from World Trade Center ruins awarded to the Wauseon Fire Department in 2011 by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Wauseon Fire Department Assistant Chief Rick Sluder submitted an online request that allowed the department to be awarded the beam.
It was one of a limited number of Ground Zero artifacts — about 1,200 — given to communities across the United States, Ms. Hamer said. “[He] put into words his feelings and what his department's feelings were, as they occurred that day,” Ms. Hamer said, talking about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The port authority, which owned the World Trade Center, officially awarded the steel to the Wauseon Fire Department. It decided to extend the tribute to the Fulton County Fireman's Association.
“They did not want to keep it for themselves. We all work together, we all run so much together. They wanted to bring in the entire Fulton County Association,” Ms. Hamer said.
Every artifact has a letter and number identifier. Fulton County's piece is called Artifact H-0035A. A delegation from the fire department traveled to New York to pick up the beam in 2011.
The new memorial will allow visitors and locals to remember the Sept. 11 events and honor military service, Ms. Hamer said. “People can sit and reflect, or tell stories to their grandkids,” she said.
The memorial will be in the fairgrounds' northeast corner and will include remembrance brick pavers. Two illuminated flagpoles will overlook the outdoor memorial. “We'll never forget. Messages and remembrance will be there,” she said.
Mr. Sluder said he is eager to see the memorial take shape. “I am really anxious to get the construction under way so that people can enjoy the 9/11 memorial this year. It has been a long road to get to this point,” he said.
The estimated construction cost is $110,000. A second phase will include sheltering the memorial, which will be open to the elements for the immediate term. Ms. Hamer said the memorial has mostly been funded by donations and a few smaller fund-raisers. Businesses from the community and outside have contributed.
Flags will be displayed that have significance; some have flown in Afghanistan, she said.
“I think the biggest part is, along with just having the beam itself, the link that we made with the flags to the military. Those flags will always be mobile,” she said.
“Involving the flags from the Iraq and Afghanistan tours of duty has been a tremendous addition to the meaning of this project," Mr. Sluder said.
At the end of the day, Ms. Hamer said, it is “overwhelming” to see the reactions of veterans, when they see the beam, and not only from post-9/11 veterans, but all who have fought.
“It seems to touch them so much,” Ms. Hamer said. “We gained a new appreciation.”
In addition to the groundbreaking, a larger ceremony will be planned for early summer, which is when the beam will be officially set in the memorial.
Contact Kelly McLendon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.