Downtown 9/11 memorial stirs emotions

The 9/11 memorial is close to completion downtown.

INDIANAPOLIS - As America prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Indianapolis will dedicate a piece of the World Trade Center that now stands as a memorial to that horrific day.

As the last four stones are set and the dust from construction is cleared away, the 9/11 memorial downtown is almost ready for dedication Sunday morning.

"A lot of people told us we could never get this done. Normally, a project like this takes five years. We did it in 22 months," said firefighter Greg Hess, who organized the project.

The 22-foot beams, which once held the twin towers together, now stand near IFD Station 13. They are forever a solemn reminder of America's darkest day 10 years ago. Indianapolis firefighter Ryan Feeney was on shift that day.

"Never in my mind did I think the towers would come down and when they did, my heart sank, because I knew the whole department was down there," he said.

Feeney is now stationed right next door to the memorial.

"Everyday, I will park right here and walk by it, so yeah, it's something special, like it was meant to be," he said.

It's special because Feeney, who is also a sculptor, designed the eagle that is perched high atop one of the beams. His eyes are turned to New York City, where he keeps a constant watch.

"People in New York need to know that people in Indianapolis care about what goes on. If that means we need to go back and help them out, then we will," he said.

To see the beams in person is profound. To touch them is an entirely different experience.

"It's up to each individual person how they feel about it. People get teary, people get quiet, you know. People go up and pray, it's just a very wide range of emotions and that's...I want people to come up and touch it," Hess said.

"I didn't know what it was going to be like to touch it. It's like touching your mother's headstone, it's like's a very reverent feeling, not like I thought, because it's not just steel," said Maureen Jayne of Indianapolis.

Crowds continued to visit the memorial all day Saturday.

The sidewalk along the canal was busy with couples, families and friends out for a stroll until they passed Station 13. Most of them stopped and stared with a gaze that was looking back across a decade of memories.

"Because I remember right where I was when the planes crashed. I think to watch that just makes you more of a better person," said one man. "To reflect back and say it is such a tragedy that happened, just to know where you were, it was such a powerful moment."

Images so powerful, not everyone could look at them. The twin beams set into the earth, secured by concrete and surrounded by granite had, at one time, been part of the 74th floor of one of the World Trade Center buildings.

"We were just talking about how it looks like they are so strong," said a woman visiting the memorial.

And so thick that nothing could destroy it. It is amazing the two pieces are here.

The beams are a reminder of what happened 10 years ago, a symbol of what could happen and that it could happen again.

Saturday, firefighters from Station 13 were called to the post office to check out a suspicious package, which is the station's specialty.

"We are trained on them, so it is not that big of a deal," Feeney said.

It did serve as a reminder how much our world has changed in the past 10 years.

"I'm sure it is on the back of your mind. It is. You know, tomorrow is September 11 and everybody's anxiety is, 'Oh my, what if?' and if you live your life like that everyday like that, then the terrorists won," said another man.

Dedication for the 9/11 memorial will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday. Seating will be limited, so organizers suggest you bring a lawn chair with you. The ceremony is expected to take about an hour.