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Lower Burrell's beam from World Trade Center gets new home in time for 9/11 anniversary

Matthew Medsger
| Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, 8:51 p.m.
Bob Villella of Sign Design in Arnold drills into the base of the new 9/11 memorial at the American Legion post in Lower Burrell on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Bob Villella of Sign Design in Arnold drills into the base of the new 9/11 memorial at the American Legion post in Lower Burrell on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.
Bob Villella of Sign Design in Arnold unloads a section of the new 9/11 memorial at the Lower Burrell American Legion on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune - Review
Bob Villella of Sign Design in Arnold unloads a section of the new 9/11 memorial at the Lower Burrell American Legion on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.
American Legion Post 868 commander Clair Ewing hoists a flag for a new 9/11 memorial on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The monument is to be unveiled at a ceremony on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune - Review
American Legion Post 868 commander Clair Ewing hoists a flag for a new 9/11 memorial on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The monument is to be unveiled at a ceremony on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.

Sixteen years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed New York City's iconic twin towers, a piece of one of those buildings will find a new home on Monday.

Lower Burrell's memento from the former World Trade Center will be incorporated into a memorial to be unveiled at 9 a.m. Monday at American Legion Post 868.

Clair Ewing, commander of Post 868, said he and his post are honored to have the chance to memorialize those who died on that tragic day.

“We are here to honor the police and emergency service personnel. Without them, there would be chaos. When everyone is running away, these guys were running to. We are proud to be able to preserve and present for the city and all who want to see that we do respect and honor those people,” Ewing said.

The city was gifted with a section of beam from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — one of more than 1,000 such remnants from the twin towers distributed to municipalities across the country.

The rectangular piece of steel, which arrived in Lower Burrell in June 2011, is about 3 feet long, 1 foot high and 1.5 feet wide. It weighs about 150 pounds.

Councilman Frank Trozzi, then in charge of the city's parks department, requested the piece, and the beam had stayed in council chambers at city hall since it arrived.

Plans originally were made for the memorial to be installed at Burrell High School, but that decision was scrapped after officials expressed concern over unexpected visitors it might draw to the school, Trozzi said.

“I think it's a good solution. We had talked extensively about one of the fire departments or the Legion or the VFW or some other places. We are really proud of the Legion and what they do for the city. It was a tough decision ultimately, but the Legion has really stepped up,” Trozzi said.

According to Mayor Richard Callender, the agreement that brought the piece of steel to Lower Burrell also includes a requirement that it be available for viewing by the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Installation of the memorial at the American Legion, which is across from Hillcrest Shopping Center and near the Peoples Library Lower Burrell branch, will make it both accessible and highly visible.

“When I became mayor, (the American Legion) came to me and said that if we would let them put the memorial at the post that they would fund the entire project,” Callender said. “I can't say enough about them, honestly. Anything that we ask, they are there to cooperate.”

The memorial was completed Friday, Callender said, but it will remain under wraps until its unveiling.

“It's beautiful. Just the piece itself, separately, is worth seeing, but when you see the backdrop it will just take you away,” Callender said.

That backdrop includes pictures of the 2,977 people killed on 9/11 — 2,753 people who died at the World Trade Center in New York, 40 in Shanksville and 184 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

Councilman Joe Grillo said the American Legion will be a fitting place to remember those lost.

“I'm glad it found a home and glad that it found the home that it found. Where it's at, considering it was an attack against America, and these men and women have never missed a 9/11 service for 15 years, I think it's the right choice,” Grillo said.

According to Grillo, Lower Burrell's American Legion post is one of a few organizations in the region that continues to steadfastly host an annual memorial service on Sept. 11.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, mmedsger@tribweb.com or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.

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