On Saturday, March 26, a piece of the World Trade Center wreckage will enter Chatham County, its first step in becoming the centerpiece of a future Chatham County 9-11 Memorial. Residents are invited to participate in the Memorial Tribute Trial, which allow residents to see the donated memento and participate in one of three tribute ceremonies in Pittsboro, Goldston and Siler City.
Click on the map above to view or print a full-size map of the trail
When constructed, the Chatham County 9-11 Memorial will serve as an historic memorial for residents of Chatham County and visitors to commemorate the emergency responder heroes and others who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center. It also will serve as a site to inspire personal reflections on this tragic event and the impact it has had on our own lives.
“Chatham County requested this piece of the World Trade Center some time ago, but we just learned that we must go and pick up the piece on March 24,” said Fire Marshal Thomas Bender, who has been actively involved in the development of the project. “We are thrilled to find out that we have been awarded a section, but we have had to take swift action to plan an event to honor its arrival in the county on March 26.”
Bender is one of five members of a core planning committee that also includes County Commissioner Pam Stewart; Joe Fraser, chair of the Recreation Advisory Board; Don Lein, president of the Chatham Parks Foundation; and Tracy Burnett, director of the county’s Parks & Recreation Department. Fraser initiated the county’s efforts to secure a piece of the World Trade Center.
Representatives of emergency responder groups, other county staff and community groups are getting involved to help plan the 9-11 Memorial Tribute Trail and the actual memorial, including finding a location and raising private funding to develop the site.
The Chatham Parks Foundation is paying the cost of transporting memorial piece to the county, but the Chatham County Firemen’s Association has offered to help with any related expenses not covered by the foundation.
Commissioner Pam Stewart said, “We know that this is a huge project that will require a lot of work from many people in Chatham County. But, I have faith that by working together we can get this done so that we have a memorial that will be a source of pride throughout the region, not just Chatham County. After all, the 9-11 attacks claimed the lives of 2,977 victims, including 411 emergency workers. It changed our nation and each of us individually.”
Don Lein said that the plan is for the memorial to “be in a location that makes it easy for our residents and visitors to have easy access. And we want it to be the type of memorial that encourages people to honor and reflect on the lives lost and their own personal connection to the 9-11 tragedy.”
The 9-11 Memorial Tribute Trail schedule for March 26 is shown below, but times are estimated, not exact. Residents can attend one of the three tribute ceremonies or they can line the route to watch the trailer and its escorts make their way through the county. Click here to view or print a route map.
- 9:00 am Entering Chatham County at Orange County line on US 15-501 North, heading to Pittsboro
- 9:30 am Hosting a Tribute Ceremony at Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot in Pittsboro and remaining at this site until 10:30 am
- 10:30 am Leaving Pittsboro following Business 64 to NC 902 towards Bear Creek, but turning onto 1010 (Pittsboro- Goldston Road) toward Goldston.
- 11:00 am Hosting Tribute Ceremony in Downtown Goldston on Belleview Street and remaining at this site until noon.
- Noon Heading north on US 421 to Siler City and exiting at US 64 Business, heading east to the Walmart Shopping Center.
- 12:30 pm Hosting a Tribute Ceremony at the Walmart Shopping Center in Siler City and remaining at this location until around 1:30 pm.
- 1:30 pm Tribute Trail ends
All of the stop locations have parking available, but at the Siler City and Pittsboro sites, please try to park away from the entrance to the stores and closer to the back of the parking area near the event.
The escort vehicles will include representatives of all of the county’s volunteer fire departments (North Chatham, Bennett, Bonlee, Silk Hope, Moncure, Pittsboro, Siler City and Goldston), the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Chatham County Emergency Management, North Carolina Forestry Service, First Health of Chatham Emergency Medical Services and Chatham Rescue. The Siler City Police Department and the Pittsboro Police Department will escort the vehicles inside their town limits.
“We felt that it was important for these groups to be represented since the intent of the memorial is to honor the many heroes of 9-11, including firefighters, rescue teams and law enforcement officers,” said Commissioner Stewart.
The brief ceremonies at each stop will focus on honoring the victims of 9-11 with appropriate music and brief comments from emergency response leaders, including local fire chiefs.
“Each stop will give attendees a chance to have a moment of silence in honor of the victims and to see the donated piece of steel,” said Bender. “We do know that the donated piece is about 4 feet by 4 feet by 19 feet, but are not sure what condition it is in until we pick it up.”
Bender will accompany Jody Allen, a Goldston firefighter, who is driving his personal diesel truck with a trailer to The Port Authority of New Jersey and New York to pick up the piece on March 24 and drive it back to Chatham County. “Lowe’s Home Improvement in Pittsboro has generously donated two large American flags for the transit vehicle,” said Bender.
“After the Tribute Trail, our next steps are more challenging,” said Lein, who will be leading an effort to raise private funds to build the memorial. “We will have to start fundraising right away through the Chatham Parks Foundation. We need as much help as possible, so I encourage people to contact me at 919-542-4790 if you are willing to donate or help with fundraising efforts.”
The planning committee is working to identify potential sites for the memorial and secure one soon. As soon as a site is secured, it will be announced.
The goal is to have the memorial ready by Sept. 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy, said Commissioner Stewart. “Our goal is to get the structure of the memorial completed and in place by that time, a very ambitious goal. That means a hard push and a lot of helping hands.”
Stewart said that the group will soon send out a call for additional volunteers to help with specific tasks. “Once we know what type of help we need, we will keep everyone posted and let residents know how they can play a part in this historical event.”