It started 10 years ago, a desire to memorialize those whose lives were lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Jack Chandler knew he wanted Milton to be a place of remembrance for that tragic day but he just wasn’t sure how.
The answer came from Kennewick. When visiting his brother-in-law years later, he couldn’t help but notice the town’s 40-foot tall artifact from the World Trade Center, the city’s own memorial to those fallen.
“I saw their piece of material and I thought geeze that would be something nice to have here for our communities,” Chandler said
A decade later Chandler, along with the rest of Milton’s 9/11 Memorial Committee, Councilmember Lois Zaroudny and Ryan Starr, have finally achieved the dream. After a three-year waiting process, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have sent word that Milton will be receiving its own artifact from Ground Zero to use as a memorial.
“This is the point we’ve been waiting for some time. Now it’s just a matter of a few signatures and getting the thing loaded and getting it back here,” Chandler said.
After his visit to Kennewick, Chandler sat down with former Milton Chief of Police Bill Rhoads, who had contacts in the New York area, to figure out what it would take to get an artifact for Milton. While Chandler had a smaller artifact in mind, what Milton is receiving is quite a sight. Weighing nearly 18,000 pounds and standing 36 feet tall, the piece will certainly attract attention when it is placed on the Milton Memorial Mile.
Milton’s piece came from Building Two of the World Trade Center, grid 442, which was a window section comprised of high beams and structural material stretching from the 91st to the 94th floor.
The process of moving the artifact from the East Coast will be a celebration in and of itself. Once things are finalized, hopefully within the next couple of weeks, a flat bed truck will pick up the artifact, where it will remain covered as it makes its way across the country. Once it reaches the Washington State border, the artifact will be uncovered and police and fire trucks will escort the piece to Milton. The artifact will be stored in Fife until it is ready to be placed at the memorial.
While the city now has the centerpiece, it will still take some fundraising to create the memorial next to the Veterans Wall. The layout has already been designed; it will be in the shape of a pentagon, with an open area filled with river rock to represent the field where Flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania. Donations of $1,000 or more to the memorial will be recognized on a sponsor plaque and all donations between $100 and $999 will be listed in the dedication ceremony program.
“It’s not just for first responders, but for everyone. Flight 93, people in the towers, first responders…we want to make sure everyone is included,” Chandler said.
Chandler has worked so long for this memorial because he wants it to be a reminder for future generations why they have the freedoms they have, and the cost of them.
“It has to be used for public display and educational purposes. That was the intent at the outset. We want people to know what happened,” Chandler said. “The only way we can get the point across in why we have the freedoms we have, we remember the events that changed the world.”