A supportive crowd gathered around a piece of the 9/11 tragedy on Tuesday morning.
A 1,400-pound I-beam recovered from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers was at Sequim Transit Center for 45 minutes before other stops in Port Angeles, Clallam Bay, Neah Bay and Forks. The display was to return to Port Angeles before an upcoming installation at Francis Street Park.
The 9-11 Commission sanctioned sending the piece to Clallam County courtesy of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey.
It was pulled from a building where 2,752 people died, including 343 New York City firefighters, 37 Port Authority police officers and 23 New York City police officers.
Those in attendance at the Sequim display took photos and touched the beam and shared stories with one another.
Mary Ellen Reed of Sequim cried when she saw the beam.
"It's overwhelming to see all these people together with the veterans and the flags and with what happened that day," Reed said.
Marguerite Leger touched the beam and said it reminded her that even though these attacks were in New York City, the effect hits home.
"It's a reminder that we're not that far removed," Leger said.
Leger said on Sept. 11, 2001, she learned of the attacks after finishing a 12-hour shift in Port Townsend. On the way home her favorite radio station stopped playing music to discuss the attacks. When Leger got home, she turned on the TV.
"I've never seen such a tragedy and sadness before," she said.
Sequim Police Chief Bill Dickinson said a few officers are planning a personal trip to New York City to pick up a piece of the World Trade Center Twin Towers for a display in Sequim.
He said their goal is to arrive on Sept. 11. The display still is in planning but it
might be shown at Clallam County Fire District 3's headquarters until a new police station is built.
Upon seeing the Port Angeles beam, Dickinson said people who walked up to and touched the beam struck him emotionally.
"Seeing a piece of it drives the act of terrorism home and shows the heroism of those who responded," he said.
Dickinson said he was working in Seattle on 9/11.
"We want to memorialize people who died and safety people who responded," Dickinson said about the tentative Sequim memorial.
"This (beam) shows we're a free country that is still subject to terrorism and we have to protect it."
Agencies in attendance were Clallam County Fire District 3, Clallam County Sheriff's Office, Port Angeles and Sequim police departments, U.S. Border Patrol and Washington State Patrol.
To make a contribution to the Port Angeles memorial, contact Alan Barnard at 461-0175.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cutline: Marguerite Leger, in front right, said touching the beam from the World Trade Center Twin Towers brought the tragedy closer to her. "Even though it was in New York City, its effect hits home," Leger said, "It's a reminder that we're not that far removed."
Sequim Gazette photos by Matthew Nash
Tracy Boutwell of Port Angeles holds the flag next to the display of the I-beam from the World Trade Center Twin Towers. He's retired from the U.S. Coast Guard and now rides motorcycles with the American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders. He has family in New York City who serve in the police and fire departments that responded to 9/11.
Following a 45-minute stay in Sequim, a truck with flatbed trailer carries an I-beam from the World Trade Center Twin Towers to stops in Port Angeles, Forks, Clallam Bay and Neah Bay. A number of military veterans on motorcycles and local law enforcement and rescue vehicles escorted the display. Sequim Gazette photo by Amanda Winters
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