To Doug Swartz it represents sacrifice.
Swartz, the assistant chief of Health and Safety and Honor Guard Commander with Clearwater Fire and Rescue department, worked to acquire a piece of a steel beam that once helped make the North Tower of the World Trade Center a New York City landmark.
“It reminds us of the lives that were lost and the resolve to move forward,” Swartz said. “Those pieces of steel withstood the most horrific attack on American soil we’ve ever witnessed.”
And that bit of metal will be the centerpiece of two ceremonies honoring the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Swartz was instrumental in helping get the piece from the Port Authority of New York for permanent display at Clearwater's Fire Training Facility on Belcher Road. He said the process to acquire the beam took about a year.
In February, he flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport, where a hangar houses much of the wreckage from that day. It sits, frozen in time.
Swartz said he saw bikes still locked to racks. Sunglasses still on stands and the twisted metal remains of fire truck.
“It’s haunting and eerie and a really weird feeling to be in this building,” Swartz said. “With all these pieces of steel and vehicles twisted, crushed and destroyed.”
The steel tubing was a common structural element in both of the Twin Towers. And although its exact origin is uncertain, Swartz said from the investigation and other information it was likely part of the North Tower.
“This small piece of steel,” Swartz said. “We have our living piece of history for all that sacrifice on that day.”
See the steel Sept. 11:
What: A Day to Remember by Calvary Baptist Church
When: 9 a.m.
What: 9/11 Recognition of Responders by the Tampa Bay Veteran's Alliance
When: 11:30 a.m.
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