A beam recovered from the site of the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil now has a permanent outdoor display in LeClaire.
LeClaire firefighters, all volunteers, dedicated a Sept. 11 memorial on Saturday, Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The memorial features an I-beam from one of the World Trade Center towers that the LeClaire Fire Department received in 2011 from the New York Port Authority after a yearslong application process.
The beam, which measures 6 feet 4 inches wide and 21 feet tall, and weighs about 398 pounds, will be looked over by a 7-foot statue of a firefighter, LeClaire firefighter Nick McManus said. The beam and firefighter are staged on a concrete and limestone pentagon, and two standing 8-foot walls behind it will symbolize the World Trade Center.
“Now, people can touch it, they can feel it, they can look a little closer,” McManus said of the World Trade Center steel beam memorial.
The beam is one of 2,600 pieces of steel and other artifacts, like emergency responder vehicles, signs and pieces of the North Tower antenna, distributed to locations in all 50 states and 10 foreign countries to memorialize the attacks. Hundreds of emergency personnel were among those who died Sept. 11, including 343 members of the New York Fire Department.
There was a long list of stipulations for a community to receive an artifact from the Sept. 11 attacks. The beam must be accessible to the public at any time and lit at night and either housed or as part of an outdoor memorial, McManus said. Right now, the beam is in a window display at the fire station, lit up so people can see it.
An outdoor memorial has been the plan since “Day One,” when the fire department received the beam ahead of the 10th anniversary, McManus said.
McManus said the department raised funds and contractors donated time and materials for the project before the pandemic to finish the project before the 2021 anniversary. Because of recent material and labor shortages, however, McManus said some of the contractors had to step back from their donation.
A GoFundMe was set up by the firefighters with a goal of $15,000 to pay for finishing the memorial — either beforehand or retroactively McManus said. He added that the department had found a different contractor but that the contractor couldn’t donate all the labor and materials needed for the project.
The LeClaire City Council approved spending up to $16,000 on the project for the concrete portion of it at its Aug. 16 meeting, interim City Administrator Ed Choate said.
“It’s really important to us to get it completed by Sept. 11,” McManus said. “So important that some of the guys on the department are willing to do a loan for the firefighters’ association.”
McManus said the department was trying to avoid any loans and was having people on the department volunteer labor to keep costs down.
On Saturday, the department removed the beam from its current home at the fire station and traveled to different fire departments in Scott County, each adding their own fire engine to a somber caravan that ended at the new LeClaire memorial. A service dedicated the memorial and placed the beam into its final place at the LeClaire fire station.