The North Maine Fire Protection District this week unveiled a 6-foot-long, 4-inch-wide steel remnant of the World Trade Center towers in New York City that collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.
A total of 2,752 people were killed in the World Trade Center attacks, including 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority.
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North Maine fire officials opened the sealed box bearing the artifact during a public ceremony Monday night at the fire headquarters on Potter Road. Among those who attended were Maine Township elected officials, representatives of the Office of Emergency Management, firefighters from Niles, Park Ridge and North Maine, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and area residents.
The beam will become part of an existing Sept. 11 memorial at nearby Ridgewood Cemetery in Des Plaines, Fire Marshal Arnie Witzke said.
"The artifact itself is the perfect size and we couldn't have asked for anything better," Witzke said. "All that remains is to incorporate this artifact into the existing memorial at Ridgewood Cemetery and we all hope it will be ready for display this coming 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2011. It will truly add to the meaning of the annual moment of reflection that we all seem to hold every year since 2001."
North Maine Fire District, which serves unincorporated Maine Township, applied for a piece of the wreckage to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which maintains an archive of materials salvaged from the World Trade Center ruins.
More than 900,000 applicants sought a remnant of the towers, including fire departments in Carpentersville and Mundelein that are awaiting their artifacts.
Des Plaines recently received a similar Sept. 11 artifact -- a 114-pound steel girder standing 33 inches high and 11 inches deep and wide that was among the supports holding up the Twin Towers. The rusted beam will be memorialized, likely outside city hall, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
A few years ago, Naperville acquired a piece of one of the World Trade Center beams and some smaller fragments are part of the Cmdr. Dan Shanower/Sept. 11 memorial downtown.
Mundelein Fire Department officials hope the metal remnant will be part of a public display at their main fire station on Midlothian Road, and that the memorial will be completed by September.
The Carpentersville Fire Department plans to incorporate the steel into a memorial outside of Fire Station 1, at 213 Spring St.