Beams for 9/11 memorial arrive Wednesday

Beams from the World Trade Center site will be delivered to a memorial Wednesday.
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INDIANAPOLIS - Two steel beams from the World Trade Center were delivered to a new memorial site downtown Wednesday morning.

The steel arrived in Indianapolis earlier this year. Despite falling more than 70 floors, memorial planners say the steel is only a quarter-inch from being perfectly straight.

The beams are the centerpiece of a $350,000 privately-funded memorial. It includes gray granite block from South Dakota, lighting and benches copied from those in the World Trade Center Plaza and seven trees marking the seven buildings of the World Trade Center complex.

"The two beams will be placed in the ground and will rise up out of the ground and then, atop the tallest one, will be a bronze American bald eagle, looking back to New York City, always," said Indianapolis firefighter Greg Hess.

Hess conceived the project years ago. He was among the first out-of-state search and rescue workers to arrive at Ground Zero with Indiana's Task Force One. He says it's important to remember the lives lost that day including hundreds of New York first responders.

"We have a direct connection to New York, why not build a memorial," Hess said.

The project is still about $50,000 short and is still fundraising. Finding the funding may have stopped many, but not Hess.

"We had some gracious donations over the weekend," he said.

Hess says he knows the economy is tight, but believes it may be more costly to forget.

"That day changed our life. I don't care what it is, it changed our lives," he said.

"I can come here one day, maybe, and tell my grandchildren about it," said stone mason Donald Barnhart. "Bring people together over 9-11."

WTHR will help in that effort with a 13-hour-long drive-up donation drive outside Eyewitness News studios Friday, called "13 Hours for Project 9-11." The drive starts at 6 am Friday and runs until 7 pm.