Stow -- The city will mark the 12th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks with the dedication of its 9/11 Memorial Garden in front of City Hall, which includes a 3-foot beam from the World Trade Center.
"It's been open since last year, but we wanted to have a formal dedication," said Mayor Sara Drew. "We talked about dates and as it got closer to Sept. 11, it made sense to have it then."
The event runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and will include the unveiling of a new plaque. Drew said City Law Director Brian Reali applied for the beam and the city received it in 2011, just prior to the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
"We found out that the city had the opportunity to get a piece of the World Trade Center, so long as we did something appropriate with it," said Drew.
Reali said former Mayor Karen Fritschel heard that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owned the World Trade Center, was offering pieces of the collapsed buildings to communities around the nation and asked him to look into it.
In a May 2011 letter applying for the beam that Reali sent to Port Authority Executive Director Christopher O. Ward, he described how the city would display the beam, including photos of the area that is now Memorial Garden.
"Upon receipt, the steel will be placed outside of the Stow City Center, resting prominently and respectfully beneath the flags of the United States, State of Ohio, and City of Stow," wrote Reali. "It will be under constant light to be seen at day and night. Further it will be marked with a plaque showing it came from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey."
Reali said the Port Authority sent the beam at no cost to the city.
"Several months later, I came into work and it was sitting in my office," said Reali. "We never received an answer as to whether or not we would get it. So when I saw it, I was surprised. I was in awe seeing it, knowing where it came from."
The dedication ceremony, part of which will be in Council Chambers, will include the Stow Police Department Honor Guard, invocation by the Rev. Jill Smith, pastor of Faith Fellowship Baptist Church, comments by Drew, music by the Stow-Munroe Falls High School Strings Ensemble under the direction of Fran Hamilton, and a procession to the Memorial Garden for the plaque's unveiling.
The garden is in a circular shape, with flagstone, plants, three flagpoles and the beam, standing upright on a base, in the center. Drew said planning for the garden was done by a "loose committee," which bounced around ideas before the city hired Kent landscape architect Charles Frederick.
The city also solicited roughly 50 donations ofmore, which totaled around $20,000, that paid all of the costs, said Drew. Drew said key donors will also be recognized at the dedication.
"We had amounts from $5 to thousands of dollars," said Drew.
Drew said that Parks and Recreation Director Linda Nahrstedt and Public Service Director Nick Wren were also heavily involved in the effort, with Nahrstedt acting as a coordinator and instrumental in the collection of donations.
"I just would like to thank all the people who donated," said Reali. "It's something that's going to be here forever and my kids are going to be able to appreciate it."
In his letter to Ward, he included some personal reflections.
"Like many other Americans, I truly feel a special connection to the events of September 11, 2001," he wrote. "My sister-in-law lived only blocks from the Towers and she thankfully escaped harm. Personally, I have been deployed overseas twice since the attacks [with the Ohio National Guard]. While deployed, I always marked my equipment with a small '9-11' so as to always remember why we were there. I found my service to be a privilege and an honor and small in nature compared to what the people of New York and Washington, D.C. endured."
Drew said the city needed to do something as a memorial to those who lost their lives, in New York City, Washington, D.C. and on Flight 93, comparing the Sept. 11 attacks to Pearl Harbor.
"It is really important that the city did this," she said. "There's no one who doesn't have a memory of that day, if they were old enough."
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