JASPER, TX (KTRE) - A 200 pound piece of the World Trade Center has found its way to Jasper for a future 9/11 memorial set to open on the 15th anniversary.
The memorial is a joint effort between the city of Jasper, Jasper County, the American Legion and the Texas chapter of Honor and Remember. According to State Director Roy James, the memorial would join Austin and Euless as the only Texas cities with 9/11 memorials to have a piece from ground zero.
James and a group of Jasper veterans made it back from new York City last Friday with a trailer containing the piece. The piece is remaining hidden until the memorial will be unveiled a day before Sept.11.
"Seeing the piece and being able to put your hand on it, knowing what it represents is very emotional," James said. "It literally changed the world forever and we are still dealing with the fallout with the war on terror."
The process to get the memorial going has been happening in the small East Texas community for the last two years. James said the idea was brought up to the county commissioners and once approved the American legion poured a concrete foundation next to the current war memorial. James said the group started to design the memorial and looked to secure a piece.
"It was our understanding that there were no more pieces available for memorials" James said. "We then had a businessman here that had connections in New York and started to make some calls."
That businessman was Chris Lanier, owner of LRG Inc., who just a couple of days before the terror attack that killed over 2,700 people was in the north tower working on a business deal.
"Through the assistance of some security industry people and first responders we found the proper way to request and receive a piece of this world history," Lanier said. "I have been to ground zero twice while on business but this time it was different because I was able to go up as a contingency from Texas and to see the firefighters and the first responders and to show them respect for what happened was very honorable."
The flag was transported back to Texas in a trailer covered by the official 9/11 flag, the Honor and Remember flag, the New York state flag, the Texas Flag and finally the United States flag. The piece will be added to the current design that has two rectangular pieces of granite shaped like the twin towers on a base that says 'never forget'. There is also going to be a granite flag between the two with a timetable on the back. The display will also contain the 9/11 flag, the flight 93 flag, the flag of honor and flag of heroes. The last two flags have the names of those killed in the attacks and post-9/11 military deaths.
James said a special Texas touch will be added with dog tags representing every Texas service member that has been killed will be burred beneath the memorial.
"There have been 638 that have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan to date and those dog tags will be entombed with the piece from 9/11"
James said he hopes the memorial will not only remember what was lost but will also be a teaching tool for future generations that can not remember where they were when the towers fell.
"The rest of the story of 9/11 is still unfolding and we want to continue that story," James said.
The memorial will be mad public during a special ceremony on Sept.10. James said members of the New York Fire Department will be in attendance as well as some other special guest from up north as well as military members from Fort Polk.