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Sept. 11 survivor Tony Rose held back tears on a hot Wednesday morning as he described the symbolism of a twisted piece of metal delivered to the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central in Radcliff.
“Today, this piece comes to us as a result of evil, There’s no other way around it,” he said.
The piece in question was a pair of beams formed into the shape of a “distressed cross” — wreckage found and retrieved from the World Trade Center in New York City after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It will be erected as part of a larger 9/11 memorial later this year.
Rose lost 29 colleagues that day, serving at the Pentagon alongside Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude, the highest ranking officer killed in the attacks.
He said the piece was formed by nature and traveled to the hands of skilled laborers who fashioned one of the most impressive buildings in the world. It only took a few hours to bring the building down.
But Rose said the structure no longer will be associated with evil; it will forever stand as a monument of freedom and perseverance in memory of those who lost their lives and those brave men and women buried in the cemetery.
“This monument will stand for all time to let people all over the world know Kentucky is full of patriots,” Rose said.
Wendell Cave, director of field services for the 2nd Congressional District, spoke on behalf of Gov. Steve Beshear and said the state is honored to have a piece from the World Trade Center to serve as an eternal tribute for those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those who have fought and died for freedom.
“This … piece resisted the evil forces of 9/11” and stands as a symbol of the strength and fortitude of the American spirit, Cave said.
The structure was obtained by Samuel Young, an administrative bureau chief with the FBI Terrorist Screening Center.
Young, a 1976 North Hardin High School graduate, discovered the piece while searching for remnants of the World Trade Center he could add to a memorial planned by the center. When the center had no need for it, he asked his boss to release the piece into his custody.
Vine Grove Mayor Blake Proffitt said he was approached by Young about the possibility of a local memorial when Young returned home to attend the funeral of a former classmate’s father.
Young was unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremony, but Proffitt acknowledged his parents, Johanna and Sam Young Sr.
Johanna said she was concerned about the logistical difficulties the memorial would bring, but she had faith in her son’s ingenuity.
“Knowing Sammy, he’s a mover and a shaker,” she said. “He knew how to contact the right people.”
As a native of Germany, Johanna said the piece reminds her of the freedoms offered in America.
She met her husband while he was in Germany serving in the military. They married in November 1956 and she immigrated to America with him in 1957.
Sam Young Sr., a Korean and Vietnam War veteran, said he was filled with a sense of pride when he heard his son’s idea.
“I thought it would be a great thing for Kentucky,” he said.
A committee was formed locally to manage creation of the memorial and Proffitt revealed some conceptual renderings of how the memorial could look once it is complete.
Proffitt said the piece, which measures about 16 feet tall and 6 feet wide, will be placed in granite with retaining walls, a sidewalk and benches to reflect on 9/11 and its impact.
Rose said the piece also will serve as a sundial.
Proffitt said the committee is in agreement that the memorial should be a privately funded, citizen-based project free of taxpayer money. Because of that, the group is looking for financial support, labor, materials and technical expertise donated by local residents.
The committee wants to have the structure mounted by Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
“But we can’t do that without your help,” Proffitt said.
Chuck Heater, executive director of the cemetery, led the unveiling of the structure, which was strapped to a tractor trailer and covered by an American flag. The structure was escorted to the cemetery by Kentucky State Police and several patriotic groups, including members of the Patriot Guard Riders and the Kentucky chapter of Rolling Thunder.
Rose concluded the ceremony by encouraging visitors to touch the piece and use all of the human senses to transport themselves to the site of Ground Zero.
“Please touch this,” he said. “Bring New York to you.”
Rose also said the completion of the memorial will provide a touchstone to a life-changing moment in history that everyone was a part of.
“Keep the memory alive,” he said. “Always remember.”
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 9/11 memorial at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central is a private endeavor directed by a local committee. It will rely on donations of money, labor and services. Contributions may be sent to 911 Memorial in care of the Missing in Action Project, 2909 Iris Way, Louisville KY 40220 or delivered to any Republic Bank branch or the cemetery.