Oconee 9/11 Memorial gets $200,000 state grant, efforts continue for 2016 opening

Ray Chandler Associated Press

Oconee County, South Carolina — The 9/11 memorial planned for upper Oconee County is in line for $200,000 of state matching funds.

The state Legislature recently approved the matching grant, but local fundraising will continue to meet the group’s goals.

“We are deeply grateful for the $200,000 matching grant that assures we will be able to build exactly what we have long planned for, the finest 9/11 memorial in the Southeast United States,” said Brandon Shirley, committee chairman and assistant Keowee fire chief.

“However, we must match the state’s money and, more importantly,” Shirley added, “we want this memorial to be something Upstate residents can claim as their own.”

Planned as an interpretive site dealing with the attacks by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001, the memorial will be accessible by driving and walking, and eventually have an open air amphitheater for education programs.

The site will feature artifacts from sites of the attacks: a piece of steel girder from the World Trade Center in New York City, stone from the Pentagon and soil from a farm near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Flight 93 crashed.

To date, the group has raised about $70,000, with an additional $10,000 pledged this year.

The cost of the first phase of the project has been estimated at $450,000. The complete project, which will include the amphitheater, is estimated at $700,000.

Site preparation starts in a few weeks and the group hopes to have a program at the site this September 11 and a dedication ceremony on September 11, 2016.

“In the next few weeks,” Shirley said, “we will be making public details on how individuals can contribute to the memorial with two additional types of donations.”

The first will involve selling memorial pavers that can be engraved in honor of, or dedicated to, first responders, service personnel, veterans or individual family members.

The second way allows donors to have informational markers named in honor of individuals or groups that will stretch the length of the memorial, on both sides.

“We are very excited to be moving into the active construction phase of this project,” Shirley said. “It appears we will be able to undertake a great deal of the design and have a truly meaningful site for people to visit and for students to learn about these events that changed our history.”

Anyone wishing to learn more can visit their website.

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