HARWICH — Even as speakers urged citizens hold in their hearts the acts of bravery and sacrifice that happened on Sept. 11, 18 years ago, Harwich now holds a piece of the World Trade Center.
During their annual commemoration last Wednesday, the Harwich Fire Department dedicated a new memorial of the Sept. 11 attack. Installed in front of the fire station, the twin columns of black granite recall the Twin Towers, and suspended between the two is a portion of steel recovered from Ground Zero.
“To the city of New York, we in Harwich will never forget,” Firefighter Bruce Young told the crowd.
The steel is a tool to help people remember the first responders and innocent civilians who died in 2001, a tool that takes on new importance now because today’s teenagers didn’t experience the event. Deacon John Foley of Holy Trinity Church prayed that they never have to live through such an act of violence.
“May terrorism in all its forms disappear from the face of the earth,” he said.
Firefighters don’t need to look back to see the consequences of 9/11, Fire Chief Norman Clarke, Jr., told the assembly. First responders who worked at Ground Zero are falling ill and losing their lives “to this day” because of the toxic substances they encountered there, he said. “We must reflect as brothers and sisters, as a community and as a society on what it means to be free,” Clarke said.
Harwich Police Chief David Guillemette also has strong memories of 9/11 and its aftermath, but among them is the outpouring of love and support that first responders received.
“Each of us experienced that kindness,” he said. The terror attack was an attack on our way of life, but it is at risk of fading from memory over time. “We as a community cannot let that happen,” Guillemette said.
To that end, the Harwich Fire Association has been searching for years for a suitable piece of World Trade Center steel for a memorial, but lead after lead went cold. After last year’s 9/11 commemoration, firefighters struck up a conversation with Phil Scozzarella of Dennis, who was wearing a T-shirt for the Fire Department of New York. Scozzarella connected them with a friend, Capt. Dennis Stack, a retired FDNY captain. With his help, a piece of steel was identified and brought to Harwich. The fire association, working with Thomas Blute of Crosby and Sons Monuments, arranged for the artifact to be crafted into a memorial. During last week’s ceremonies, firefighters lifted a black cloth to reveal it for the first time.
Clarke thanked those involved for making the memorial, and thanked the highway department for painstakingly landscaping the area. The black granite towers will be a powerful reminder to anyone who visits the station, he said. The chief urged citizens to “reflect on the beautiful things in our lives, and most of all, to never forget.”