WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Two steel beams from the collapsed World Trade Center have arrived in Wilmington. Firefighters picked up the artifacts earlier this week and brought them back to town for a special reception.
It was an escort fit for a hero. These two steel beams represent just that: the first responders who became heroes during and after the September 11, 2011, attacks.
"To have something like this in Wilmington is really special," Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinette said.
The Wilmington Fire Department and Cape Fear Community College acquired the pieces. One piece will sit at the new Empie Park fire station when its built. The other will go to CFCC's safety training center.
There were dozens of people Wednesday who could not wait until the beams where permanently placed. Among those in the crowd were two men who made the trip to New York to pick up the two artifacts, each with a personal connection to 9/11.
"It is very special to me," WFD Capt. Greg Fix said. "I did lose my best friend on 9/11. He was a firefighter. Brian McAleese. I actually went up there the day after on 9/12 and worked a decent amount of time on the pile."
For retired FDNY firefighter Jimmy Kadnar, the connection is even more personal.
"I was an active firefighter at the time, and I was actually working September 10 night into Tuesday," he said. "Unfortunately as everybody knows what had happened, but to see it firsthand... I lost 46 close friends as well as 343 active firefighters."
CFCC interior design students created the plan for the memorial that will sit at the future Empie Park fire station.
"It includes memorial gardens with flowers that bloom in September, for September 11, a reflecting pond, granite pillars representing Pennsylvania, the shape of the concrete is in the shape symbolic of the Pentagon and, of course, it has the I-beam at the center of it all with an image holding it up," CFCC lead interior design instructor Patricial Battershill said.
Many at the reception said the memorials will make it hard for people to forget the brave men and women of 9/11.
"I think the American people really should be reminded of it on a daily basis," Kadnar said. "I think too many people have forgotten about it."
The beams are headed into storage, where they will await their final resting place later this year.