Needham 9/11 memorial breaks ground

Jonathan Dame, Needham Wicked Local

A memorial for 9/11 first responders in Needham is expected to be complete in time for the thirteenth anniversary of the attacks this fall.

The project broke ground Tuesday at a ceremony in front of the police and fire stations, where the memorial will be located.

Selectmen Matt Borrelli, chair of the committee that organized the monument, called the groundbreaking ceremony “a big thank you” to people and organizations involved in the yearlong planning process.

Firefighter Mark McCullough and retired detective Joe O’Brien came up with the idea a couple years ago after an annual 9/11 memorial service.

They realized that every year Needham’s first responders would gather for moments of silence in front of their buildings, standing on nothing more than a plain patch of grass, McCullough recalled.

The goal of erecting a physical memorial was to establish something more permanent and meaningful.

Organizers raised all the funds for the approximately $35,000 project at a fundraiser earlier this year. Needham Bank was the biggest donor.

A one-foot piece of wreckage recovered from the World Trade Center area will be at the heart of the memorial.

Securing the artifact was no easy task. McCullough said organizers failed to acquire it through multiple channels before successfully doing so though one of his personal friends.

The memorial will be especially poignant for the 12 Needham firefighters that traveled to New York City in the immediate aftermath of the attacks – all of which [sic] are still on the force, according to Borrelli.

The firefighters helped dig up debris in the search for victims and survivors. One of them, Skip Hopkins, shared his experience with the Times earlier this year.

“When we had the chance to go, we just had to go,” he said. “We thought we’d get there and help give aid to the victims. By the time we got there, there were no more victims. Everybody was dead.”

“It was just so big and horrendous.”

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