PORT ANGELES — A piece of the World Trade Center destined to become the centerpiece of a monument in a Port Angeles park arrived in town Wednesday.
It was just in time for Sam Allen, a Coast Guard helicopter mechanic who worked with fellow guardsman Andrew Moravec for three years to bring the 9-foot-long I-beam from Ground Zero to Port Angeles.
Allen, who has just finished a four-year assignment at Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, is transferring to a duty station in Puerto Rico today.
His feelings when he finally saw the rusty 1,400-pound piece of the World Trade Center destroyed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were hard to describe, he said.
“When you think about where it’s from and everything it’s been through,” said the 29-year-old helicopter mechanic, pausing to collect his thoughts, “you remember seeing those buildings collapse, and you think, ‘That could have been someone’s final resting place; that could have been a beam they had to remove when they were still searching for people.’”
Organizers are racing to have the I-beam installed on a brass pedestal beside the public safety monument in Francis Street Park in time for the dedication on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“It was a huge relief to know that it’s physically in our possession,” said Alan Barnard, chairman of the Clallam County Public Safety Tribute Committee, which has worked with the Port Angeles Fire Department Auxiliary on the project.
“It’s time to rock and roll,” said Bernard, a Port Angeles real estate agent who led the public safety tribute committee when it erected the Clallam County Public Safety Monument in Port Angeles’ Francis Street Park in 2002.
“I’m guardedly confident that we will have it ready to go to dedicate on Sept. 11, but we have no time to lose,” he said.
Before the memorial is raised, the World Trade Center I-beam will travel around Clallam County, with Barnard and Capt. Duke Moroz of the Port Angeles Fire Department, taking it to communities Tuesday to allow public viewing of the artifact.
Among the 2,753 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center were 343 firefighters, 60 police officers and eight private emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
“At each location, the public safety jurisdiction has been asked to bring their vehicles,” Barnard said.
A sign will describe the I-beam. No program is planned.
“I think it will mean different things to different people, but one thing for sure: It will be compelling to see it,” Barnard said.
“I don’t think there will be any need for any speeches.”
Tuesday’s schedule is:
■ Sequim: Clallam Transit Building/City Council chambers, 190 W. Cedar St., 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
■ Port Angeles: Vern Burton Community Center, 308 W. Fourth St., 10:25 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.
■ Clallam Bay: Clallam Bay County Park, state Highway 112 and Pioneer Street, 12:43 p.m. to 1:13 p.m.
■ Neah Bay: Washburn’s General Merchandise Store, 1450 Bayview Ave., 2:05 p.m. to 2:35 p.m.
■ Forks: City Hall, 500 E. Division St., 3:37 p.m. to 4:07 p.m.
The I-beam is scheduled back in Port Angeles at 5:23 p.m., where it will be taken to Ruddell Auto Mall, 110 S. Golf Course Road, to be displayed Wednesday and Thursday, July 28.
Ruddell Auto Mall owner Howie Ruddell is donating the use of the flatbed truck that will carry the I-beam on its county tour and is a corporate sponsor of the memorial, Barnard said..
Ted Dole of Port Angeles, who ran the forklift Wednesday to unload the I-beam from the truck that delivered it from Seattle, also will donate his time to loading it on the trailer for its journey around the county.
Alex Anderson of Alex Anderson Concrete of Port Angeles and Port Angeles artist Bob Stokes are donating their time and work to the memorial.
Graphic artist Laurel Black donated a printing design for marketing purposes.
Allen and Moravec initiated the effort to bring the I-beam to Port Angeles after reading in the Peninsula Daily News that some of the wreckage recovered from Ground Zero was available for display as memorials throughout the nation.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey required nonprofit sponsorship of the relic of the fallen towers. That was provided by the Port Angeles Fire Department Auxiliary, Barnard said.
Donations can be sent to the Public Safety Tribute Committee, P.O. Box 845, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
Donations also will be taken along the tour route Tuesday.Barnard can be reached at 360-461-0175 for more information.