For over a year, the Professional Wixom Firefighters Association has been working with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to obtain a steel artifact from the former World Trade Center in order to commemorate the scores of law enforcement and firefighters who died during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America.
Today, Wednesday, June 8, a convoy of firefighters are returning home with a piece of 9/11 steel to be memorialized in a ceremony hosted at Fire Station No. 1, located at 1345 N. Wixom Road, at 7 p.m.
While en route, a congressional flag donated by U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Waterford, White Lake, Highland, Milford, Commerce, Wolverine Lake, Walled, Wixom) will be draped over the artifact in reverence.
“This is to memorialize, honor and pay tribute to individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Wixom Fire Chief Jeff Roberts. “If they hadn’t gone in and made as many rescues, the loss of life would have been much more.”
The ceremony will be attended by city officials and friends and family of police and fire personnel, with tributes by Wixom Firefighters Association President Jason Breitmeyer, Mayor Kevin Hinkley and firefighters and police officers planned.
Citizens are welcome to attend.
A formal dedication ceremony will be held later this year.
The steel artifact is a segment of a 6-foot I-beam weighing 1,500 pounds. It will eventually be enshrined at Fire Station No. 1 or adjacent to that property.
When the Port Authority initially became open to the idea of allowing steel remnants of the World Trade Center to be housed across the country, the Wixom firefighters association embraced the idea.
“During the darkest days of our history, they went into a building knowing some wouldn’t come out,” Roberts said. “It’s something we don’t think about on a daily basis, but the possibility is always there.”
The association was notified of its application acceptance last November. It’s taken 18 months to obtain the steel artifact.
“We had to take legal ownership and then physical ownership,” Roberts said.
The artifact is being donated. Costs of transporting the steel were assumed by the Wixom and Walled Lake Lions Club, which donated $1,000 for travel expenses; and Varsity Lincoln, which donated a vehicle for transportation.
Costs for any memorial design, signage and maintenance will be paid by the firefighters association.
“When we return with the artifact, that’s when the fund-raising efforts will commence,” Roberts said.
Roberts’ team will begin soliciting bids for conceptual display designs that best use the piece for remembrance.
Stipulations from the Port Authority include that the artifacts can’t be used for profit and the public must be able to view them.