Each year, the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedy brings America together to remember the bravery of both first responders and everyday heroes. This year, Pantexans gathered to unveil a monument years in the making featuring salvaged steel from the World Trade Center.
In a ceremony outside the Pantex Fire Department, a memorial was dedicated. Etched in marble, flanked by two quartz towers and topped with a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, the memorial to all who lost their lives in the attack has now become a permanent part of the landscape at Pantex.
“It is extremely appropriate that we place this memorial in front of the building that houses our first responders, because it serves as a symbol of our gratitude for the service they provide to this Plant,” Mark Padilla, Assistant Manager for Programs and Projects with the NNSA Production Office (NPO), said. “It also serves as a bridge between our first responders and the first responders who gave their lives on that fateful day.”
Efforts to create the monument at Pantex began in October 2009 with a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requesting a piece of the World Trade Center for a memorial monument. Once onsite, the steel was cut in Pantex’s own Machine Shop.
“It is important that we can visually see something tangible and realize that what we do is important to our freedom and the American way of life,” said Donovan Morgan, Pantex Fire Department battalion chief, who spearheaded the memorial initiative.
Craft Supervisor and member of the Navy Reserve John Herrera oversaw work done on the steel in the Machine Shop. “I revere the World Trade Center steel just as I would a piece of steel from the USS Arizona,” he said. “On the USS Arizona, we had military personnel from the Navy and the Marines die on board when it sank. At WTC, we had civilians die from the deliberate attack.”
“During the attack at Pearl Harbor, the sleeping giant awoke,” said Herrera. “During the attack at WTC, it united all fellow Americans, both civilians and serviceman, as brothers and sisters. It changed the way we live and made us more aware of the existence of terrorism around the world. As I walk past the WTC memorial, I will remember the civilians that died on that day and the dark moments this nation has endured.”
In addition to display in the monument, pieces of the salvaged World Trade Center steel are now displayed onsite at the NNSA Production Office building and at the Pantex Visitors Center.