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Fire district to hold 9/11 memorial ceremony

Next month, it will be one decade since terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center, an airliner commandeered by terrorists crashed in Pennsylvania and another plane hit The Pentagon.

On the 10th anniversary of this event that changed America, the Pagosa Fire Protection District will have a groundbreaking ceremony for the 9/11 memorial to be built on the lawn at Fire Station 1 on North Pagosa Boulevard.

The center of the memorial will be a piece of a beam from the fallen Twin Towers, a beam that is distorted and charred by the flames – a piece of beam that is forever changed, like so many lives were changed on 9/11.

In March of this year, the fire district accepted an offer that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey made to many public and government entities. The Port Authority offered to give an entity a piece of steel beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center on condition that a public memorial be built.

Pagosa Springs, together with 15 other communities in Colorado, said “yes” to this offer. Many of these communities, like Pagosa Springs, will display their memorials, or their soon to be built memorials, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Since saying “yes” to the Port Authority’s offer, the local fire district has been working to raise funds for this memorial, since the funds were not available in the district budget.

According to volunteer firefighter Sylvia Goosen-Thompson, so far, 75 percent of the funds have been raised.

“This is a great town for fund-raising,” Goosen-Thompson said. “Everyone contributed.” The Town of Pagosa Springs donated the river rock to be used as the base for the memorial.

According to Goosen-Thompson, the memorial will be placed on the lawn in front of Fire Station 1 to honor the firefighters who gave their lives during the 9/11 tragedy. However, the memorial will be dedicated to “all the first responders who gave their lives,” Goosen-Thompson said.

Atop a base made of river rock will be placed two upright steel beams scaled to the dimensions of the twin towers. Cut vertically down the beams will be the words “We Will” and “Never Forget.” In the middle of the beams, will be a steel cut American flag in front of which will lie the piece of beam from the World Trade Center. Both the steel beams and steel American flag have been designed and are in the process of being constructed by local artist David Burch, from Hydro-Cut, Inc.

Burch says that though he’s been commissioned to do many steel artworks, from signs to gates to life-size elk, this is the first time he has contributed to a memorial.

“We were honored to be chosen to design and create a memorial for the fallen fire fighters of 9/11 attacks in New York City,” Burch said. “The individual stories of the heroes from that day are countless, but the story line is the same. The heroes memorialized by this statue chose to give their lives so that others might live. We are humbled by their dedication and selfless acts of bravery.”

The ceremony will be held at the site of the memorial on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 2 p.m. The ceremony will include a benediction by the fire district chaplain, patriotic songs performed by the Pagosa Springs Community Choir and a drawing for half a beef, a whole hog, and a meat bundle or the cash equivalent. Drawing the winning raffle tickets will be Peyton Fryar (born Sept. 11, 2001), Warren Grams (who was the PFPD chief when 9/11 took place) and Archuleta County Fire Manager Tim Batchelor (who was at Ground Zero the days after 9/11).

Goosen-Thompson anticipates that the memorial will be finished prior to winter.

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