PARK RIDGE, Ill. (STMW) — A piece of the World Trade Center is coming to Park Ridge.
The North Maine Fire Department is the recipient of a 6-foot-long, 4-inch wide, 50-pound piece of steel salvaged from the debris of New York City’s World Trade Center.
The department, which was awaiting the artifact’s arrival this week, hopes to use it in a memorial, preferably within an existing Sept. 11 memorial at Ridgewood Cemetery in unincorporated Maine Township, the community the North Maine Fire Department serves.
“We’re still in the planning stages of what we’ll do once we have it,” said North Maine Fire Marshall Arnie Witzke, who was instrumental in securing the artifact.
He added: “We’re pretty confident we’ll put it at Ridgewood for everybody to see and visit.”
Pieces of the World Trade Center, destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, are being shipped to fire departments, municipalities and various organizations around the world through the Sept. 11th Families’ Association and the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. In the Chicago area, communities like Naperville, Carpentersville and Coal City have also received remnants, which they have incorporated into their own Sept. 11 memorials. In Coal City, two 5-foot-tall steel beams representing the Twin Towers stand outside the Coal City Fire Department’s new fire station.
Witzke, along with North Maine District Fire Chief Mike Fox, worked to request a World Trade Center remnant for unincorporated Maine Township after learning about the unique program from a firefighter in another municipality.
“(We) said, ‘We’ve got to do this. We’ve got to try for it,’” Witzke said.
An application was mailed last year and in January the department learned the request had been approved. This week Witzke received an e-mail letting him know the steel artifact was about to be shipped.
The only cost to the department is the shipping fee, he said.
Once the package arrives, a public opening may take place, possibly during the May meeting of the Maine Township Town Board, Witzke said.
“I’m very excited about it,” he added. “I feel like the North Maine Fire department is going to be very special receiving a piece like this.”
Fox hopes the artifact will always be a reminder to the community of the thousands who died Sept. 11, 2001, including the nearly 400 firefighters attempting to rescue occupants of the Twin Towers.
“We felt like, whatever we can do to keep it alive and in the hearts of everybody, that’s really what it’s all about,” he said.
© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed