On Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Arnold elected officials, city employees and state dignitaries, along with representatives from the city’s police, fire and ambulance districts and about 1,000 residents from throughout Jefferson County turned out to unveil the city’s 9/11 Memorial at the Arnold Recreation Center at 1695 Missouri State Rd.
The memorial statue includes a piece of steel salvaged from the rubble of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, which were destroyed in the attack.
“I remember exactly where I was 10 years ago when our great nation was attacked,” Arnold Mayor Ron Counts said. “That horrible tragedy has become known by its date alone, 9/11.”
On that day, 19 al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jets and crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and thousands working in the buildings. The third airliner crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth plane, en route to Washington, D.C., crashed in a field near Shanksville, PA after passengers attempted to retake control of the airliner.
Many shed tears as an honor guard made up of Arnold police and firefighters unveiled the memorial statue containing a 2-foot piece of World Trade Center steel that twisted when the office buildings crumbled and killed nearly 3,000 people ten years ago.
The Poynter Institute reported that 2,753 people died when the towers collapsed. The New York magazine reported that 343 firefighters, 23 New York City policemen, 37 Port Authority police officers and eight emergency management technicians died while trying to reach the injured and help others escape from the burning buildings.
The City of Arnold was one of 1,218 recipients, out of 2,000 applicants, to receive the final disbursement of World Trade Center debris.
The Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, which guards World Trade Center remnants and approves 9/11 memorials, sent the artifact to Arnold in August.
The monument that contains the World Trade Center relic sits in the middle of a garden on the north lawn of the recreation center.
Volunteers and donors helped design the memorial; create the cement sidewalk; and buy the benches, plants and flag pole that will help visitors reflect and consider the effect of the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Today we are honoring all those that lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks and those that have followed with faithful acts of bravery defending our nation,” Counts said.
The solemn ceremony included a Boy Scout color guard, performances by the Fox Middle School and Ridgewood Middle School bands and the First Baptist church of Arnold Children’s Choir, a nine-gun salute from VFW Post 2593 and the ringing of the Fallen Fire Fighter Bell Signal.
The Daughters of the American Revolution donated flags to memorialize the events and victims of 9/11.
“Arnold is very fortunate to receive a historic centerpiece to this memorial,” Counts said. “This twisted piece of steel is a piece cut from the rubble that once was the Twin Towers in New York City. It is my sincere hope that this grand memorial is a sobering reminder to our community, a reminder of what can happen as a country when we let our guard down, a reminder of those that paid the ultimate price that tragic day, a reminder that even today our armed forces still fight for our freedom, and our first responders continue to serve and protect us here at home. We need to remember 9/11 took place.
“This monument that we dedicate here today will forever serve as that visual reminder of our connection to each other across this great land.”
Former State Senator Bill McKenna, D-Barnhart, said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 served as a generational marker, much like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.
“These are times in ones’ lives when personal feelings run the gamut of emotions like no other,” McKenna said. “On Sept. 11, 2001, 2,977 people lost their lives. Over 10,000 individuals were injured and countless others impacted. But America, as she always does, brought out the best in its people.
“Every time you look at this special and sacred piece of steel know that it is so much more,” McKenna said. “It is a symbol of America, our strengths, our first responders, our resiliency, our diversity and our people.”
Ten roses were placed on the memorial to mark the 10 years that have passed since the attacks took place.
Arnold Ward 1 Councilman Christine "Cricky" Lang, who chaired the city’s 9/11 Memorial Committee was tearful as she and Arnold Parks and Recreation Director Susie Boone placed the final two roses at the base of the memorial.
“I’m proud to be an American,” Lang said. “I wanted a symbol for our city, so we never forget what happened that day.”
Lisa Leeling and Clinton Renna of Imperial waited in line after the dedication to see the memorial up close.
“We just came out to show our respect, and we haven’t forgotten,” Leeling said.