Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes (second from right) and firefighters and first responders from around the county stand behind the section of steel recovered from Ground Zero.Full size photo

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes (second from right) and firefighters and first responders from around the county stand behind the section of steel recovered from Ground Zero.

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TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes was flanked by firefighters and first responders from around the County today as a section of a steel beam recovered from Ground Zero was displayed for the first time.

The 10-foot, 2,108-pound piece of I-beam steel was recovered from Ground Zero during the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. This artifact and thousands of others were recovered and catalogued by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and the Port Authority has since initiated a program to give the artifacts to local communities for use in 9/11 memorials.

“Today is not a celebration, but recognition that Mercer County has just received a piece of history in the form of a section of a steel beam that was recovered from the World Trade Center,” Hughes said at a brief ceremony March 28 outside the Dempster Fire Training Center in Lawrence. “We took the steps that were necessary to obtain this piece of history so that the generations after us will have a tangible, visceral part of Ground Zero to observe. Within this object lie the emotions of a nation, of the State of New Jersey, and of the residents of Mercer County.”

Dozens of firefighters and first responders from Mercer County worked at Ground Zero for the first 10 days after September 11, Hughes said. Mercer County was also home to 27 victims.

Attending today’s ceremony were firefighters and first responders from the County’s Emergency Dispatch Center, Slackwood Fire Company of Lawrence Township, fire companies from West Windsor and Hopewell and West Windsor EMS and Bristol-Myers Squibb EMS, as well as Acting County Sheriff Jack Kemler and freeholders Pasquale Colavita Jr., Anthony Carabelli, John Cimino and Samuel Frisby.

In June 2010, Mercer County became aware of the opportunity to obtain a section of steel preserved from the World Trade Center site. A formal request was made by Hughes to the Port Authority in a letter dated Nov. 9, 2010, and the County Executive’s request was reviewed and approved by the Port Authority in December 2010.

The artifact will be temporarily housed at the Dempster Fire Training Center in Lawrence Township, which is also the site of the County’s Office of Emergency Management, while the County locates a site for a permanent memorial.

The County is in the process of planning a permanent memorial for the artifact. Those plans have not been finalized. Later this year, upon completion of the memorial, the County Executive plans to hold a solemn ceremony to commemorate the new memorial site, to remember the victims of September 11th, and to honor the firefighters and police who gave their lives on September 11th protecting others.

“The victims, the firefighters and the first responders are heroes, and this piece of steel represents their sacrifice. We hope that the new memorial site will be a fitting place in which to honor and remember them,” Hughes said.

911 Memorial I-beam

The section of I-beam steel given to Mercer County by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The artifact is 10.5 feet long and weighs 2,108 pounds.