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Fire Officials Bring World Trade Center Steel to Yorktown for 9/11 Memorial

The Lake Mohegan Fire Department sent dozens of responders to lower Manhattan on 9/11. They now have a piece of history for future generations.

Members of the Lake Mohegan Fire Department and Ambulance Corps traveled to John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday to pick up two World Trade Center steel pieces they would use for a Sept. 11 memorial in Yorktown. 

Former Lake Mohegan fire Commissioner Steven Yagoda said he put in a request to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about a year and a half ago. And now the memorial might be in place in time for the 10th anniversary.

The two rusty steel beams, each weighing 450 pounds and about four feet in length, were in a storage room along with other steel pieces, including pieces from an airplane, electrical panels, beams, six bikes and two large steel pieces that were curved from the impact of one of the planes. 

It was an emotional day for many of the fire department members.

"The feeling is really overwhelming," said Barbara Wolert of what she saw in that storage room. 

Sue See, of the Lake Mohegan fire police, said the timeline of the 9/11 events displayed at the entrance is what made a strong impression. In one of them, she said, she noticed that two police officers who had been helping people went back inside the buildings, but never made it out. That's the last picture their families would have, she said, of helping people.  

"It's a lot of memories of the event," said Barry Brown, who was at the World Trade Center site to help people almost 10 years ago. "Being there first hand and after, it's not the same."

About 100 people from the department went down to the Bronx for station coverage to FDNY's Engine 88 as well as the staging area in Yonkers, and about 10 of them went to the actual World Trade Center site the following day. 

One of them was Lt. Chris Gravius, who is now also an NYPD officer. He escorted fire officials to the pick up site on Thursday.

"It's very respectable and I'm glad we got a piece of history," he said. "I want to make sure the new members [of the department] and future members will have it as part of history."

18-year-old firefighter and EMT Dan Mulleady said he was honored to be a part of the bringing of the steel to Yorktown and said he remembers watching the events of 9/11 while his mother, an EMT, went down to the city to help people. 

"We lost a lot of people," Katherine Wolert said. "You don't get over it. It's always there."

While nothing can be fixed or bring back the people who lost their lives, she said, people should always remember and not forget the events of 9/11. 

"It's not something you get over," her mother Barbara Wolert said. 

"This is history," Katherine Wolert said. "It has affected me so much that I don't want my kids to not know."

Out of the more than 1,500 requests for the pieces of steel, 1,112 were accommodated, Port Authority spokesperson Steve Coleman said. They've given away about half of them so far to various fire and police departments, community organizations and town governments throughout all 50 states, as well as five countries. 

The rest of the pieces would be displayed at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Coleman said. The foundation had cut the steel into 1,200 pieces which varied in sizes. Some departments and organizations requested small pieces while others requested more than one, he said.

The Yorktown memorial's location has not been determined yet, but officials have a few options-- the Jefferson Valley fire house, the main headquarters on Rt. 6, or off of Wiley Road, which is a small, town-owned property at the corner of Route 6 and Lexington Avenue right across the street from the fire station. 

Chief Wolert said he was thankful to the NYPD and the Yorktown Police Department for the escort, and to the Yorktown Highway Department for providing the machine to transfer the steel beams from the pick up truck to its temporary location.

The beams are placed at the Jefferson Valley fire station until the 9/11 memorial site is built.

Check out the video for highlights from the bringing in of the World Trade Center pieces to Yorktown on Thursday.

Katherine Wolert May 13, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Plamena~ Thank you for a taking a genuine interest in joining us on our trip to JFK Airport, Hanger #7 to pick up our 2 pieces of steel. As portrayed through your article and all the interviews you did, yesterday was an extrememly emotional, yet bitter-sweet day. I feel as if in a way the 2 pieces of the World Trade Center are "safe at home' now. Thank you once again for your time, interest and dedication to honest reporting on a topic that means so much to all of us.

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