World Trade Center steel memorialized across California
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A 500-pound chunk of mangled, rusty steel
gives firefighters at the Sherman Oaks Station chills when they
The piece - which came from the World Trade Center - reminds
them of Sept. 11, 2001, when the station's Urban Search and Rescue
team immediately flew cross-country following the terrorist
"It's numbing to know this was pulled from the rubble. I get
goose bumps just pulling it out of the building," said Joe
Kovacic, a Search and Rescue team member.
Across the nation, World Trade Center steel has been
incorporated into more than 250 local tributes designed to bring
the tragedy closer to home. The Sherman Oaks station is one of
about a half-dozen California sites that have remnants from the
towers. The California recipients range from Martinez in Northern
California to an Orange County high school student who built a
memorial as an Eagle Scout project.
After the towers collapsed, no formal program existed to
distribute their steel. Officials in New York dealt with the 1.6
million tons of debris in a variety of ways. More than 350,000 tons
of metal were sold for recycling in China, Malaysia, Korea and
India. Hundreds of pieces were set aside for investigation, some
were used to make sculpture memorials for victims' families, and
some steel will be melted down to build a new U.S. warship, the USS
Not long after the collapse, New York's Office of Emergency
Management began receiving hundreds of calls, e-mails and letters
with requests for World Trade Center debris.
Anyone could apply for a piece of steel, but with some
requirements. The applicants had to prove they were legitimate
entities that would not seek to profit from the steel and they had
to acknowledge the pieces might be contaminated. They also had to
arrange for shipping, although most of the California recipients
said FedEx offered to ship the steel for free.
The New York office tried to honor as many requests as possible,
until earlier this year when the program closed.
One of the best-known steel memorials is in Albuquerque, N.M.
Two pieces of World Trade Center debris, a 30-foot-long beam and a
20-foot-long beam, were joined together in the bell tower of a
Roman Catholic church during a March 31 dedication ceremony.
The chunk at the Sherman Oaks fire station, which is home base
for the California Task Force One search group, arrived in December
on a FedEx truck. A priest blessed the steel after it was received
by community and task force members.
"It was very solemn and very sacred and very quiet - the way it
should be," said Carrie Konjoyan, a member of the Sherman Oaks
Chamber of Commerce, who had the idea to bring the steel to the
An emotional connection exists between New York and members of
the 70-person team who left Los Angeles the afternoon of Sept. 11,
Konjoyan said. The station plans to incorporate the steel into a
memorial before the second anniversary of the attacks.
Others that plan to create memorials are Martinez, Yola County
and the Los Angeles Police Academy. They all will use the tower's
steel to symbolize how the attacks have connected two opposite
"Even though we're a small California town, we love New York,
too, and we stand with them," said Mark Ross, the vice mayor of
Other steel-based memorials already have been set up in
A piece of steel in Orange County has been dedicated to all
victims of terrorism. The four-foot, 350-pound I-beam sits atop a
concrete base outside Fountain Valley's public library. Fountain
Valley High School student Ben Narodick designed and built the
memorial with his Boy Scout troop.
"The best feeling is when I drive by and I see people there or
parents that brought their children to see it," Narodick said.
Entertainer Marty Ingels and his wife, actress Shirley Jones,
brought a 2-foot length of I-beam to a park they built in Fawnskin,
north of Big Bear Lake. They called the half-acre lot "Freedom
Park," and perched the piece in the middle of five large boulders.
Behind the beam, a sign reads "Grief is not enough" and is
accompanied by a collage of Sept. 11 pictures.
Ingels said they built the park and the memorial to show support
for President Bush.
"It seems to say nothing about life or liberty, but then you
hold up the pictures of what it represented and what it was a part
of, and how it all collapsed in three and a half minutes, and you
cry. Everybody cries," Ingels said.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)