Ground was broken Sunday for a 9/11 memorial in front of the Lanoka Harbor Fire Company, Route 9 and Warren Ave., which will feature a as its centerpiece.
Originally, the fire company had solicited design plans from Lacey Township High School students, but the final design came out of the memorial’s planning committee.
“The design was based on a lot of ideas from a lot of people,” said Jerry Pepin, fire company President. “We hope it will be a place of reflection so we don’t forget.”
Firefighter Karen Ziemian first learned of the availability of the pieces of the World Trade Center about two years ago. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which issued the artifacts being stored in a hangar at John F. Kennedy Airport, had only one requirement for the memorial -- that the piece of steel be used in a public memorial where people can sit and reflect, she said.
“The memorial will have two six-foot-tall black granite towers, spaced five feet apart with the four-foot steel beam between the towers with an American flag hanging from it,” said Ziemian. “Below that will be another piece of granite with the number 343. There will be a small waterfall over the granite into a reflecting pond.”
The design calls for a paver walkway in front of the memorial with two benches at 45-degree angles to the memorial. People will be able to buy pavers for the walkway that can be etched with dedications.
Actual construction of the memorial will begin in the next week or two and fire company officials hope to have it completed just prior to Sept. 11. An unveiling ceremony is planned for the tenth anniversary of that tragic day in 2001 when 343 New York City firefighters and thousands of others lost their lives after terrorist-hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers in lower Manhattan, causing them to collapse.
Pepin said the cost of the memorial will be between five and seven thousand dollars. The fire company is continuing to fundraise for the project and is asking for community support in the form of money, time, trades or skills.
“We’re acting like the general contractor,” he said. “The Township is giving us a lot of support, as well as several local electricians, welders, landscapers and masons.”
“Our hope all along was that this would not be just a firefighter project, but would involve the whole community,” said Ziemian. “We’re seeing a lot of interest from the community and that is very exciting.”
This project is especially meaningful to members of the Lanoka Harbor Fire Company, according to Pepin, who said many of them have ties to people lost or impacted by 9/11. But, he said just being a firefighter makes this memorial significant.
“9/11 to a firefighter is the same as Pearl Harbor was to a person of that generation,” said Pepin. “Our soil was violated. We can’t let them do that to us anymore.”
The Port Authority started the WTC Artifact Program almost two years ago. They accepted requests from municipalities, uniformed agencies, and non-profit organizations, said Norma Manigan, Port Authority spokesperson. They expect their total distribution to reach 2,000.
The fire company’s planning committee consists of Ziemian and fellow firefighters, Mark Amrozewicz and Justin Homme.
Those interested in purchasing a paver, donating funds, or helping with the memorial in any way may call the fire house at 609-693-4998.
The fire company will also be holding a car wash fundraiser on Saturday, July 23 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the old Blockbuster at the Lacey Mall shopping center.
The department is asking for a $5 donation per car, $15 for all fire, EMS, and police vehicles. All proceeds will benefit the 9/11 memorial.