A national relic will be placed in front of the Lanoka Harbor Fire Company to honor all who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Lanoka Harbor Fire Company has been awarded with a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
The fire department applied for the relic back in September 2009 and after a long and grueling process, they picked it up in New York on Feb. 24, 2011.
“They’re like religious relics,” said Jerry Pepin, President of the fire company.
The Port Authority took the process very seriously. It was as though the fire department had to prove its legitimacy, Pepin said.
The Port Authority retrieves the artifacts from ground zero and stores them at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Through the WTC Artifact Program, the Port Authority then distributes the steel to qualifying applicants.
The fire department had to develop a design plan for its application.
Firefighter Karen Ziemian had designed a plan with two towers with glass panes. Names of all the fallen firefighters would be sketched into the glass. The steel from the actual twin towers would stretch across the top of the two towers with an American flag hanging down.
There were also talks of a reflection pond, benches, and florescent blue lights shining between the two towers, Pepin said.
But the fire department decided to open up the plans to Lacey Township High School.
Ziemian spoke with Renee Gurgacz, high school teacher and adviser of the school's Emergency Services Club, which gets students involved in Police, Fire, EMS, and Animal Rescues services.
Students will have the opportunity to develop their own plans for the memorial, which will be placed in front of the fire department’s flagpole, Ziemian said. The deadline for plans from students is May 16.
The fire department is hoping to make this a community-wide effort as they plan to raise funds to complete the project.
“We want trades people,” Pepin said.
Pepin and Ziemian are hoping businesses will donate and the community will pitch in with the actual construction.
The memorial is expected to be completed by Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.
Pieces of steel have been distributed throughout the state, including Monmouth County, who had the largest number of civilian deaths from the tragedy.
“I remember just waiting in the station, hoping for a call. We just wanted to help. Everyone wanted to do something,” Ziemian said as she reflected back to 9/11.
She explained that many fire departments were held back because of the volume of assistance and the fact that the entire northeast could not be left without fire services.
Pepin, a firefighter in Edison, went to the city to cover for stations in the Bronx.
“It’s not just about the firefighters. It’s about all the people effected,” Ziemian spoke of the memorial. “So many people were affected secondhand.”
The Port Authority started the WTC Artifact Program almost two years ago. They accept requests from municipalities, uniformed agencies, and non-profit organizations, said Norma Manigan, Port Authority spokesperson.
Requests are sent to the executive director and reviewed by staff. So far the program has received over 2,000 requests and distributed about 900 pieces of artifacts, Manigan said. They expect their total distribution to reach 2,000.