On the 10-year anniversary of the Sept.11 terrorist attacks, the Winter Park community is coming together to memorialize the day’s fallen heroes.
“My prayer for our city is that it is a day we will never, ever forget,” Mayor Ken Bradley said.
City leaders, public safety officials and community members have banded together to fund the construction of the Fallen Heroes Memorial, which will be built to honor those public servants who lost their lives during both Sept. 11 and local service duty.
“This will be our way to honor those who have fallen,” Bradley said at Tuesday’s site dedication ceremony for the memorial outside the Winter Park Public Safety Facility.
Fire Chief Jim White and Winter Park Rotary president Butch Margraf are leading the effort to build the memorial, which is set to be completed in the spring. A piece of steel rubble that once stood as part of one of the Twin Towers will be part of the display.
“We have quite a few people who live in the immediate area and live in Winter Park and Central Florida who were directly impacted by the events of Sept. 11,” White said. “We wanted to give them a local place to visit and share in the memorial of either their loved one or family or friend.”
Margarf and the Winter Park Rotarians headed fundraising efforts to build the structure, raising $20,000 so far with an estimated $45,000 total needed to complete all phases of the memorial.
The memorial’s centerpiece will be a piece of steel recovered from the rubble of one of the Twin Towers. Comparable in size to a stack of notebook paper, and in weight to a bowling ball, the metal will rest on a base of black granite.
Architect John Cunningham of ACI Inc., who has volunteered to design the memorial free of charge, said the structure will symbolize of the strength of the American people and its public servants.
The base, he said, will be made of solid black, polished granite to signify the solidarity and strength of the country, and surrounding the base will be burnt and blackened lava rocks to serve as symbolic rubble left after Sept. 11.
The ground surrounding the structure will be paved with bricks that can be purchased and personalized as individual memorials of family, friends and loved ones, Margraf said.
“To have a place where you can go and sit down and have a piece of that structure right in front of you is very powerful,” he said. “You can sit there and you know that this piece was part of all those events that you see and reflect back on it.”
Aside from the design of the structure alone, Fire Chief Jim White said the location of the memorial is equally significant.
White said you won’t be able to enter the Public Safety Facility without seeing the nearly 5-feet tall structure.
“The address of our fire department here happens to be 343, which is the same number of firefighters that were killed on Sept. 11,” White said. “Every time we write that address down or think of what our address is, we remember, and this will be one other way for us to continue to memorialize the sacrifices made on that day.”