Chesco responders obtain 9/11 artifacts from Pentagon

By Michael N. Price Daily

Two limestone pieces salvaged from the Pentagon were transported to Chester County Thursday. Photo by Michael N. Price

Two limestone pieces salvaged from the Pentagon were transported to Chester County Thursday. Photo by Michael N. Price

WEST GOSHEN — A convoy of emergency responders traveled to the Pentagon Thursday to retrieve several September 11 artifacts for use in the construction of a monument at the Chester County Public Safety Training Campus.

The group of firefighters, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and emergency medical personnel left the county around 3 a.m. Thursday to travel to the Pentagon outside of Washington D.C. While there, they received a personal tour of the Pentagon’s 9/11 Memorial from a Department of Homeland Security employee who witnessed the terrorist attack in Washington that morning.

Following the tour, the group selected several pieces of limestone taken from the area of the building that was struck by American Airlines Flight 77 on the morning of September 11, 2001. The emergency responders then hauled the blocks back to the Government Services Center in West Goshen, and eventually to the Public Safety Training Campus in South Coatesville.

“It was solemn, there was a large loss of life there that day,” said Lt. Howard Holland of the Downingtown Police Department as he reflected on the experience. “It will take a while for it to sink in, what we actually saw down there.”

Beau Crowding, the Chester County Department of Emergency Services deputy director for fire services, organized the trip after he saw a news story about New Jersey police departments that were able to obtain 9/11 artifacts and bring them back to their local communities.

Crowding contacted a Department of Defense employee who handles the artifacts, William Hopper, and scheduled the trip. The Pentagon has provided about 250 pieces of limestone to emergency responders around the country, and only about 30 or so remain.

The limestone will be used in a local 9/11 memorial in the “Tactical Village” section of the Public Safety Training Campus, which is still under construction. Crowding said he was proud of the cooperation and unity between police, fire, and emergency medical services in Chester County, and that he hopes the 9/11 artifacts will serve as a reminder of those relationships when they are put on display at the training campus.

“When the responders are down there training, they’ll have a remembrance of why we do what we do,” Crowding said.

The training campus already features a steel beam that was salvaged from the World Trade Center, and Crowding said the Department of Emergency Services is already in talks to obtain soil from the site of the Flight 93 crash in Shanksville.

Representatives from the county’s police, fire, and other emergency responder communities will now get together to brainstorm on how exactly the limestone blocks will be used, Crowding said.

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