World Trade Center Steel Erected, Dedication Ceremony Planned for Sept. 11
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – William Vaughn saw horror unfold on Sept. 11, 2001. He and his wife were staying in the Marriott Hotel at the World Trade Center and were going through their morning routine of drinking coffee and exercise when a plane hit the North Tower.
They both escaped that fateful morning without injury and watched as the second plane hit the South Tower, and gasped as the building later collapsed onto the hotel they had slept the night before.
Vaughn saw a much different scene Wednesday as steel beams from the destroyed World Trade Center were being erected as part of a new monument outside his office at the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge. Three beams were placed in the ground at an angle, all leaning in on each other to form a sculpture, and a fourth laid on the ground.
“There’s mixed emotions, frankly, when I look at it I’m reminded of that day,” said Vaughn, who works as the county’s demographer. “I think it’s good to remember the county did lose some people in attacks.”
Those people, like Dumfries-Triangle Rescue Squad member Jeff Simpson who ran toward the burning World Trade Center and never returned, will be honored during a special ceremony to dedicate the new World Trade Center Steel memorial at the government center. It sits at the entrance to the facility just off Prince William Parkway, and it’s adjacent to Freedom Park which has a war memorial and September 11 reflecting pool with the names of county residents who perished when a plane hit the Pentagon that day.
Work on a permanent memorial for the World Trade Center steel obtained from the New York – New Jersey Port Authority in 2010 finally began this summer, when a team tasked with preserving the steel and cleaning the concrete still encased inside the beams got underway. The highest beam in the sculpture now stands at 22-feet tall, and they were placed onto 5×6 footings, six feet into the ground. They’ll be lit at night for all to see.
“Our goal, other than having it here so it is the center of the complex, is so when you’re driving down the parkway you can see them late at night, they’ll command the parkway, said Brendon Hannifin, with Prince William County Historic Properties.
The effort to preserve the steel and erect the monument has so far cost $217,000, a far cry from the project $4 million it was going to cost to build the winning design for a permanent memorial selected by officials two years ago, that included a 4-story glass box to encase the steel, and a large plaza surrounding the memorial.
Officials this year scrapped that plan and decided on this simpler design, to get the steel out in the open for people to come touch them and reflect.
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, the World Trade Center steel monument will be dedicated at a public ceremony at the government center at 7 p.m. The event will help to mark the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington, and Pennsylvania.