The small twisted piece of steel once helped to hold an entire building aloft. Now the piece, standing exposed in the Warren County Administrative complex, supports the grief, memories and hopes of an entire community.
Warren County unveiled its 9/11 memorial Tuesday, on the 11th anniversary of terrorists hijacking four planes and flying two into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. Warren County received a piece of one of the towers — a steel I-beam about 3 feet in length — for use in the memorial. The piece is surrounded on both sides by two nine foot granite towers, representative of the World Trade Center.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, we came to a time of mourning,” said Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff. “We mourned as individuals, we mourned as families and we mourned as a country. But through the passing of the months and years since then, now over a decade, we have reached a time to build up. We persevered and continued forward.”
Kruithoff said the challenge of 9/11 had revealed the strengths of America and it citizens.
“As the fires in the structure damaged on September 11 purified our spirit and united our resolve, we became strong,” Kruithoff said. “This monument reflects the strength of our resolve as a community to never forget Sept. 11, 2001. It reaffirms our commitment to strive forward towards the survival of our freedoms.”
Keynote speaker Anthony Munoz, a retired Cincinnati Bengals’ Hall of Fame player and Warren County resident, said the memorial reminded him of all the freedoms Americans enjoy, particularly the freedoms to come together in groups and pray to God for support and guidance.
“I still pinch myself on the freedoms and how great this country is,” Munoz said. “Even knowing that it isn’t perfect I love this country. I’m thankful that I live in this country and we have the freedoms that we do. I love that we can stand here this morning and honor those that we lost in prayer. That’s the great thing about this country — the freedoms that we have.”
Two Warren County residents — Wendy Faulkner and Robert Peraza — lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks.
Kruithoff said the memorial wasn’t just an object of reflection and grief but a chance to look forward and take pride in America’s spirit.
“When you pass this monument in the future, it should reflect that there was a time to mourn,” Kruithoff said. “But we must also reflect that the time has come to be proud, to rejoice, to embrace the next challenge and meet it with the same sense of purpose that we faced the tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Munoz said he hoped 9/11 would always be a day of remembrance and prayer.
“Eleven years later, this is still an important date in our history,” Munoz said. “Hopefully, we’ll never forget this date as long as we live and hopefully it will be passed on to the generations that come after us.”