Officials dedicate Elyria Township 9/11 memorial

By Evan Goodenow Chronicle

Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipe and Drum members view the steel from he World Trade Center  in the middle of the 9/11 Memorial after Sunday’s dedication ceremony. Anna Norris, Chronicle

Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipe and Drum members view the steel from he World Trade Center  in the middle of the 9/11 Memorial after Sunday’s dedication ceremony. Anna Norris, Chronicle

ELYRIA TWP. — Speakers recalled the heroism and outpouring of goodwill immediately following the 9/11 attacks during a 9/11 memorial dedication in Elyria Township on Sunday.

The Rev. Donald Dunson, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Elyria, said the “pure altruism” displayed by rescuers that day should never be forgotten.

“There will always be those that try to cut the ties that bind. This beautiful memorial is a statement that we must forever stand united,” Dunson told about 200 people at the Rowland Nature Preserve, 7475 Murray Ridge Road. “There are ties visible and invisible that link us to every human being. Even to our enemies.”

The memorial is home to an 18-inch by 18-inch, 210-pound rusted piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center towers that collapsed after being struck by American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 on September 11, 2001. Including American Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon and the downing of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., 2,977 [sic – 2,973] people died that day.

The Elyria Township Fire Department in 2011 received the piece from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Elyria Township was among about 1,500 communities nationally that received tower pieces, said township Trustee Rob Scheithauer, who helped spearhead memorial construction.

The remnant is the centerpiece of the memorial. The monument includes two 7-foot-tall concrete towers that are 2 feet by 2 feet wide, said architect Mark Lesner, of Amherst-based Mark Lesner & Associates.

The memorial foundation is an 8-feet-by-8-feet concrete, rust-colored pentagon. The rust symbolizes the blood of the victims. A waterfall runs out of the pentagon to a plaque with a “We Will Never Forget” inscription.

The monument received $16,766 in donations, Scheithauer said. He said $14,871 has been spent. Some donors dedicated memorial bricks to loved ones or veterans. Scheithauer said the only taxpayer money spent was $2,000 from the general fund to supply water for the waterfall.

However, Scheithauer said the monetary cost doesn’t reflect hundreds of hours volunteered by Lorain County trade union members who spent about five months building the monument. Scheithauer choked up as he thanked them.

“I don’t know to thank these guys,” he said. “They work hard.”

Lesner said in an interview that he volunteered about $20,000 of time to the project. The design was his third. The first two were too expensive.

His voice cracking with emotion, Lesner told the crowd he usually communicates through concrete and steel. Lesner recalled President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in which Lincoln said the world would never forget the sacrifices of the Union dead and that government of, by and for the people “shall not perish from the Earth.” Lesner said the same lesson could apply to 9/11.

“If we come together, there’s nothing this country can’t do,” he said. “Terrorists didn’t destroy this country. They will not destroy this country.”

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