Photo by Brian Barbieri

Legion post dedicates 9/11 monument to 'never forget'

A piece of steel from the World Trade Center was gifted to Lower Burrell, Pa., six years ago by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The piece of steel has gone unseen to the small town located less than 20 miles from Pittsburgh until Monday, when Robert L. Davies American Legion Post 868 unveiled a project it has been working passionately on for the past two years – a 9/11 monument dedicated to the first responders and the nearly 3,000 lives lost 16 years ago.

“We told the mayor (Richard Callender) you give us that beam, we will build a memorial, won’t cost the City of Lower Burrell any money, and we will do it justice. Because we believe in honor, duty and country,” said Post 868 Commander Clair Ewing.

Mayor Callender told Trib Live that “Through this memorial, we will have a place to come and reflect on this tragedy and a reminder to never forget."

The monument, which stands in front of Post 868, was unveiled on Patriot Day to more than 200 community members. The message to all there at the ceremony, and to future viewers of the monument, is to keep the history of that day alive by reminding everyone that “we will never forget. An attack on one American is an attack on all of us,” Ewing said. Those messages are delivered on plaques placed at the top of the monument and underneath the steel beam, which sits in a protective case.

The monument also features the faces of all 2,977 people who died 16 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001. “I think that’s an honor to them and their families,” Ewing said. It also features a police and firemen emblem. “This dedication was for the first responders because when tragedy happens everyone runs away and they run to. Our whole society without them would be chaotic.”

Ewing said the design for the monument changed many times, but their ultimate goal was creating a monument that “would pay the most honor and tribute to the people that perished. This has been a project of love,” he said. “A group of about six Legionnaires put in a lot of time to make this happen.” And when Ewing saw the completed monument for the first time, he cried. “It just turned out beautiful. I think it’s a part of history that should never go away.”

Post 868 raised more than $10,000 for the funding of the monument through financial support from post dinners, community members and local businesses. “It didn’t take much. Everybody has been great,” Ewing said.

The post is located on a high-traffic road in Lower Burrell, so the 9/11 memorial will attract a lot of attention.

“Now you can drive by and see a piece of history. This is a very patriotic area, and I think (the 9/11 monument) put the City of Lower Burrell on the map,” Ewing said.

The monument is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.