Piece of WTC steel is reminder at high school

Hopewell Valley News

A piece of steel from the World Trade Center towers wreckage is moved into Hopewell Valley Central High School.

A piece of steel from the World Trade Center towers wreckage is moved into Hopewell Valley Central High School.

Hopewell Valley Central High School students, who were infants and toddlers when the World Trade Center towers fell to the ground after terrorist attacks, now have a powerful reminder of what happened September 11, 2001.

September 11, the 13th anniversary of the attack, members of the Hopewell Valley Emergency Services Unit transported a piece of the wreckage of the towers to the school’s media center/library where it will stay until this time next year.

In a somber ceremony, firefighters, EMTs and police officers marched through a hallway in the school and stood at attention in the media center with students. There, the glass-encased piece was installed on a table and a bell was rung three times as a solemn memorial to those who lost their lives, especially emergency service personnel.

Mike Chipowsky, former Hopewell Township police chief, chairman of the Hopewell Valley September 11 and Emergency Services Memorial Committee and a member of the Hopewell Valley Central High School Class of 1968, told students the memorial had specific meaning for them.

“Memorials such as these and the much larger one in Alliger Park are not built for those who remember those days, but for you who have a limited memory of those events,” Mr. Chipowsky said. “Today, we place this sacred artifact here in your care with the hope that you will never forget what happened that day.”

He said, “On that beautiful, crystal clear September day, 13 years ago, our nation was shaken to the very core. Attacks on New York City, the Pentagon in Virginia and the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania killed nearly 3,000 Americans and harshly reminded us that we were not immune to the terrorism that was occurring in the rest of the world.

“Another lesson learned that day was that the American spirit could not be crushed by terrorism. Former President George W. Bush, I think, said it best when just days after the attacks, he stood on a pile of smoking rubble at the site of the World Trade Center and said, ‘Here buildings fell and here a nation rose.’

“We did rise. Patriotism was at an all-time high in our country. American flags flew from buildings, highway overpasses and cars driving down the road. People stood in line to give blood, and trucks were filled with donations and sent to New York City.

“However, there was a very dark side to that day. Nearly 400 emergency services workers lost their lives just doing what they did every day; charging into danger, when most of us are running the other way.

“There is no official number of people that they saved that day, but the number is in the thousands, and it is their sacrifice that we honor today as well as remembering all who lost their lives.

“Some of you may now be members a fire department or rescue squad here in Hopewell Valley. If you are, I salute you. If not, I would urge you to explore this rewarding volunteer community service. So today, we place this sacred artifact into your care with the hope that none of us will ever forget.”

“We felt helplessness that day as we stood and watched the towers fall,” Principal Mike Daher recalled. “The firefighters and police gave us a new set of heroes to root for. They gave us hope in the darkness.”

The metal, which the emergency personnel brought to the Valley in 2009, has been displayed in several public places as a memorial. The piece has spent time in the Hopewell Township Municipal Complex, at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch complex and last year at the Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell.

[On] September 10, emergency personnel picked up the memorial and readied it for the September 11 ceremony at the school.

The steel will remain at the school until September 10, 2015, when it likely will be picked up and made ready for transport to another public venue.

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