After years of planning, fundraising, and work by craftspeople a permanent memorial to September 11th is being publicly unveiled this evening in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Described as unique among the nation’s many 9/11 tributes, the monument in Springfield features a steel beam from the World Trade Center that is set vertically in front of a curved bronze wall. At night, spotlights on the 9-and-a-half-foot beam cast shadows on the wall evoking the Twin Towers.
The names of 498 first responders who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 are engraved on the wall.
The monument is located in Riverfront Park. It was installed there as part of a $3 million renovation of the park.
"We wanted to pay respect to these first responders and that was the best way we could contribute," said the city's parks director Pat Sullivan.
He said the monument is visible to people driving across the Memorial Avenue Bridge and from the bike path that runs through the park on the banks of the Connecticut River. It is not fenced-off. People are invited to walk right up, touch the beam, and scan through the names.
" It is a very peaceful, tranquil location for this memorial," said Sullivan.
The effort to erect a 9/11 monument in Springfield began almost a decade ago when Spirit of Springfield petitioned the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for an artifact from the World Trade Center.
The beam was first displayed at the city’s remembrance ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It remained in storage, out of public view, as dozens of locations for the monument were considered and a design was chosen.
In 2016, the design by Modvic was revealed. The monument was fabricated at Salmon Studios in Northampton, where during a preview last summer, Sam Ostroff said it was an honor to work on the monument.
"This is not about us or our artistic ideas. It is about that beam and using it in a respectful way," he said.
It took less than a year for a fundraising committee chaired by real estate developer Frank Colaccino to raise $300,000 from the business community and the public to pay for the cost of finishing the monument and to set some money aside for future upkeep.
" I am highly confident we are going to raise the money, so confident that we've actually signed the contract to get this thing done," Colaccino said at the April 2018 announcement of the fundraising campaign.
Speaking at a groundbreaking for the installation of the monument last September, Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt said the city’s permanent tribute to 9/11 heroes was worth the wait.
" We are very pleased ( the beam) has the final resting place it deserves," said Matt.
She said people had questioned what took so long to create the memorial, and Matt responded " we wanted the right design and we got the right design and we wanted the right place and now we have that."
The names on Springfield’s monument mirror those from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. The list includes firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and personnel from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.