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Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn and Florida Eagle Scout Jeff Cox are working together to build a memorial honoring the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. (Photo courtesy Shelby Fallin)

Victims of 9/11 Honored


Eagle Scout project to build memorial in Florida

By Shelby Fallin | null null , null

This week communities across the country are honoring the memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Jeff Cox, a 15-year-old Eagle Scout from Windermere, Florida, wants to give people in his community a way to honor those victims every day. He decided to bring a piece of the World Trade Center buildings to his hometown for a memorial.

"I remember I was in second grade and I really didn't know what was going on," Cox said of the attacks. "Then seeing these two huge buildings falling down on TV—it was like a scary movie, and I never really liked scary movies."

On September 11, 2001, four consumer airplanes were hijacked and intentionally crashed in a terrorist attack on the United States. Two planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centers in New York City. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth plane was headed for the White House, but crashed instead into a field in Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people died in the attacks. Many of those people were firefighters and police officers—first responders—attempting to save people from the wreckage.

The young Eagle Scout's older brother is a local firefighter who was recently wounded in the line of duty. Cox said he wanted to honor the firefighters and other first responders, as well as the memories of all the people who died that day.

To put his plan in action, he first did some research. Cox went online and found that the Port Authority of New York City had preserved pieces of metal from the World Trade Center buildings. He then approached the Mayor of Windermere, Gary Bruhn, to see if the town would be interested in having a memorial.

"I thought it was a tremendous idea," Bruhn said. "We have a lot of requests for projects. This is a project that will stand the test of time and generations."

The Port Authority gave Cox several choices. He finally chose a 650-pound beam that was recovered from the destroyed buildings. The Port Authority keeps remnants from the attacks in Hangar 17 at JFK Airport in Queens, New York.

The next problem was how to ship such a huge hunk of steel from New York to Florida. Cox started looking for sponsors and volunteers to help. It didn't take long. UPS has agreed to sponsor some of the cost of the shipping and local engineers have volunteered to design the memorial.

The town of Windermere donated a piece of land where the memorial will be placed. The city is helping Cox find someone to donate a spotlight.

Cox hopes to have the memorial finished by the end of the year. He is planning a dedication ceremony on February 20, 2010.

"The town of Windermere is celebrating its firefighters and policemen that day and I thought that would be a great day to dedicate the memorial, too," he said.

Mayor Bruhn agrees.

"It will be a constant reminder of those firefighters and first responders not only on 9/11 but beyond that," Bruhn said. "They serve our community and put their lives on the line everyday."

The memorial is not just for Windermere residents, but all of Central Florida as well, the Mayor added. "I think it will touch a lot of people to see steel from the actual towers."

You can find out more about the artifacts being preserved in Hangar 17 at JFK airport in New York from a report written by Kid Reporter Juliette Kessler in 2007. Kessler, who was also in second grade when the attacks occurred, was in school only a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. Six years later she toured the hangar and remembered her experiences from that day.

About the Author

Shelby Fallin is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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