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World Trade Center beam finds home in Hudson

HUDSON – A group of Hudson residents will begin a long trip to New York next week so people back home can commemorate what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

Selectman Roger Coutu, Fire Capt. Dave Morin and several other Hudson residents will leave for New York City early Thursday morning to pick up a 26-foot-long, 54-inch-wide steel beam from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. It’s one of the many beams that fell with the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Hudson group will haul the beam back into town the same day, drape it with American flags and hold an introduction ceremony at local fire stations, the police department and at the town hall to give residents a chance to pay their respects.

The beam will be cut in half later this summer and erected as the centerpiece of a new 9/11 memorial to be built in Benson Park. The two pieces will be 26 feet tall and 27 inches wide.

The town plans to dedicate the memorial with a ceremony on the 10th anniversary of the attacks this September.

Morin, president of the town’s 9/11 Memorial Committee, said the idea for the monument came last September, when another Hudson firefighter saw an article that said the Port Authority was considering applications for steel beams from the fallen towers to be used and preserved as monuments.

In March, Nashua Fire Rescue also obtained a steel beam from the World Trade Center to use as part of a memorial.

Morin led Hudson’s charge through the board of selectmen, completing lots of paperwork and meeting several times with different boards and committees to bring the plan together. The project was stalled until Monday, when the fire department finally received confirmation that they would receive a steel beam and could pick it up soon.

The e-mail notification came just hours after the White House announced U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden after years of searching, and the significance wasn’t lost on Morin.

“It all came together on one day,” Morin said. “The reason we’re doing this memorial is because of what he did to our country.”

Morin said Sept. 11 has always been an important day in town, as one resident died on Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower during the attacks. The Hudson Fire Department also sponsored a large food drive the week after the attacks, and they drove a large trailer truck full of food and tools down to New Jersey to help out all firefighters, police officers and medical staff performing search and rescue missions.

“We have a 9/11 memorial service every year, but we really just didn’t have a place to gather,” Morin said.

The memorial’s design will honor everyone who suffered that day, Morin said. The steel beam will be split in half to replicate the Twin Towers, the granite and glass will be shaped in five-tiered walls above ground and around the steel beams to represent the Pentagon, and the grass around the memorial will represent the field in Pennsylvania where the hijacked Flight 93 crashed.

“This will be a tribute to ensure that nobody forgets,” Morin said. “We can’t forget that day.”

There will also be a sidewalk that leads into the center of the monument, with a time line of what took place on Sept. 11, 2001, Morin said. Morin said he hopes to get construction started right away, but Coutu said there is still some fundraising to do. Coutu said the committee needs to raise about $25,000 to $38,000 more in order to complete the project. The money has to be raised quickly, too, if the town is to finish construction on the monument in time to dedicate it on the 10th anniversary this fall.

One event planned for this summer is a 24-hour telethon, Coutu said, to be held at the town community center. No date is confirmed yet, but Coutu said he hopes to raise $10,000 through the telethon.

“We expect to raise the money well in time to get this thing accomplished,” he said.

Coutu said to cover all expenses, the memorial would cost about $138,000. But enough people in town have stepped up in small ways to offset about $100,000 of those costs, he said.

John Rudolph, of PMR Architects in Nashua, did the design work and drawings of the proposed monument free of charge. He wanted to help after he heard about the memorial from his wife, Michelle, who is a lieutenant at the Hudson Fire Department.

The landscaping job to clear the park land was also free, with the work done by willing volunteers in town, and local company Continental Paving has offered to chip in with the truck, gas and labor required to pick up the steel beam in New York on Thursday.

Even the granite to build the pentagon around the beams, as well as the etchings into the stone, will be donated for free.

“I can’t put into words how grateful we are,” Coutu said. “They might seem little, but they’re expensive if you had to pay for them. So many people have come forward. I’ve worked with a lot of organizations, but I’ve never seen so many people pull together so quickly with a real time constraint. Usually, with things that are rushed like that, it’s a mess to get things done.”

Coutu said the memorial will be the largest 9/11 memorial in New Hampshire, which he said would be “fitting” for Benson Park.

“This is a park that belongs to the people of the state of New Hampshire, not just the people of Hudson,” he said. “This will be open to anyone who wants to come in and spend some tranquil time and commemorate the lives that were lost on 9/11.”

Shawn Jasper, chairman of the Hudson Board of Selectmen, said the memorial will also offer easy access for handicapped and elderly people, as it will be located “just inside the park” and next to the parking lot.

“We were all affected by what happened that day and we’ve continued to have a memorial service each year,” Jasper said. “This will be a great opportunity for more people to participate in that and really think of the significance with the actual pieces of steel from the World Trade Centers incorporated into the design.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com.