9/11 memorial at Riverfront Park complete after years of planning
The dedication of the monument was initially planned on Sept. 11, 2018, marking the 17th anniversary of the attacks, but organizers decided that more time was needed to complete the project
The Republican, Springfield, Mass.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — After years of anticipation, a large crowd gathered last night on the Connecticut riverfront to dedicate a monument to the public safety heroes who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
Those taking part in the ceremony at the newly refurbished Riverfront Park included elected leaders, residents from the region and beyond, and representatives of the public safety agencies that lost 498 first responders in the attacks. The theme was “Forever in Our Hearts.”
Attendees gathered around the centerpiece of the monument — a 9.5-foot structural steel beam from the World Trade Center in New York City, destroyed in the terrorist attacks. The beam was donated to the private, nonprofit Spirit of Springfield organization by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, arriving in 2011.
Springfield crowds greet World Trade Center steel at Court Square
The beam will be used to create a monument in the Forest Park rose garden.
The monument also includes a curved bronze wall engraved with the names of the first responders who lost their lives. At night, the illuminated artifact will cast the shadow of the Twin Towers onto the wall.
Jim Jurgens of Wilbraham attended the ceremony to remember two relatives whose names are on the wall. His nephew Thomas Jurgens was a New York court officer and his first cousin Paul Jurgens was a Port Authority police officer.
“It’s great for Springfield to do this,” he said. “It’s such a wonderful tribute. You can tell it’s the effort of a lot of people.”
Dignitaries who participated in the dedication ceremony included Andrew H. Card Jr., chief of staff to President George W. Bush at the time of the attacks, and Edward Cetnar, the director of public Safety for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Mayor Sarno served as Honorary Chair of the Springfield September 11th Monument Fundraising Committee and pledged...Posted by City of Springfield, MA - Office of Communications on Thursday, June 20, 2019
Speaking to The Republican before the ceremony, Card praised local efforts to create the memorial.
“This is so important to do because those of us who were alive and touched by what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, all promised we’d never forget,” he said. “This is a way to make sure those people who were not there will never forget.”
Local dignitaries included Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, acting Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and Fire Commissioner Bernard J. Calvi. Police and firefighters from around Western Massachusetts and from New York City also attended.
The September 11th Monument Committee raised more than $300,000 to help build the memorial and cover related costs.
The riverfront memorial was fabricated and installed in a collaborative effort by Salmon Studios of Northampton and ModVic Design of Palmer.
The ceremony was to include the reading of the 498 names of the first responders. The ceremony also included a roll-out of emergency vehicles that crossed the adjacent Memorial Bridge with their sirens and lights activated, and the ringing of the fire bell by the Springfield Fire Department, among many other tributes.
Those who spoke during the early evening ceremony spoke of the courage of the first responders in their efforts to save lives that day, and the resiliency and resolve of the nation in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.
Although Sept. 11, 2001 was a “traumatic and tragic day, America came together as one, and when you look at that situation, America continues to shine as a beacon of strength, the beacon of Democracy, the beacon of hope around the world,” Sarno said.
"Putting this monument here on the riverfront sends the message that we'll always remember and never forget," Sarno said.
Sarno said, as he always reminds people about first responders: “When everybody else is running our of that building, they’re running into that building to save lives and to save structures.”
The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, killed nearly 3,000 people and injured thousands more, after terrorists seized and crashed four passenger airplanes at the two towers, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The dedication of the monument was initially planned on Sept. 11, 2018, marking the 17th anniversary of the attacks, but organizers decided that more time was needed to complete the project.
Cetnar, on behalf of the Port Authority, presented an American flag to Sarno that had flown over the World Trade Center site last June when he was invited to come to Springfield's ceremony.
"We will never forget," Cetnar said. "That is something that is instilled in my police officers from Day One. We will never forget and don't ever embarrass the memory of the folks that gave their lives that day.
Calvi said that thousands of lives were saved that day by the efforts of firefighters, police, and the Port Authority in getting as many people out of the buildings as possible "without regard for their own safety, knowing that when they went up those stairs, many of them would not come back out that day."
Clapprood praised the sacrifices of the first responders of Sept. 11 who died and were injured and who continue to suffer.
“As a law enforcement officer for 40 years, I am still in awe of their courage and sacrifice,” Clapprood said. “The first responders displayed tremendous courage on that day. Everyone who takes an oath to serve and protect knows that day may come when you’re faced with life and death situations.”
Brigadier General John J. Driscoll, commander of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, said the events of Sept. 11 “permanently altered our way of life that still affects us today.”
Driscoll said he is optimistic “because I know America will prevail because America is America. America is an idea, not just a place. It is an expression of the hopes and dreams for a better life.”
©2019 The Republican, Springfield, Mass.