By Kaitlin Carney
ELDRED On a sunny, cloudless day, not unlike September 11, 2001, a piece of steel from the World Trade Center made the long journey from JFK Airport to the Town of Highland Town Hall in Eldred.
Artifact number I00069I will become part of the town’s Heroes Park in front of Town Hall, where current monuments to the wars in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II currently stand.
Town Supervisor Andy Boyar remarked that this “people’s project” was going to be guided by a committee of community members (an artist, graphic artist, FDNY widow are part of the contingency) to ensure the steel gets an appropriate place of display.
The steel’s journey started nearly 18 months ago when local resident and artist Mauro Giuffrida suggested that Supervisor Boyar request an available artifact for the town. Boyar started the process, and the town only recently received word that they would be receiving the steel.
On the morning of May 25 Boyar dispatched former Yulan Fire Chief and current Deputy Highway Superintendent Daryl Barnes and Town of Highland Constable Marc Anthony to JFK airport to retrieve the artifact. Both men traveled the distance in their department’s dress blue uniforms, a testament to the solemnity and reverence of the act. Many other departments were at the JFK Hangar where the Town of Highland representatives signed in and retrieved the steel destined for their small town 21⁄2 hours away from the hustle and bustle of New York City. “When you hear people’s stories of why this is so important to them… it makes this even more special,” Barnes remarked. “I feel honored to have been selected to be a part of this.”
Anthony added, “To have been part of the recovery effort after September 11th and to then be a part of bringing this piece of history back home is very special.”
The steel crossed the Town of Highland line at around 6 p.m. and was ushered down County Route 32 by a fleet of constables, Yulan, Lumberland, and Highland Lake Fire Departments, and volunteers from the American Legion Ambulance Corps. American Flags dotted the steel’s path to the nearly 85 people assembled to witness the historic event. Six Yulan firefighters unloaded and unwrapped the steel before a brief ceremony and reception.
Supervisor Boyar stirred the crowd’s emotions when he asked “Why a monument?” and told a personal story of his friend, an off-duty lieutenant who answered the call on that fateful day and was last seen in one of the doomed twin towers.
He also touched on the story that was important to Daryl Barnes as he traveled to pick up the steel: a Town of Highland resident’s husband was a New York City Firefighter, one of the 343 to perish at the Trade Center. His remains have not yet been recovered, and this artifact will be all that she has from that day to remember him.
The Town of Highland plans to renovate the monument park to enhance the current monuments, and a large tree has been removed to accommodate this. Plans are also in place to design and create a fitting place for the World Trade Center steel. The Town is looking for any volunteers (skilled laborers, artists, gardeners, helping hands,etc) to help with the monument’s construction. A fundraising mechanism has also been established to fund the project. Contact the Town Clerk, Doreen Hanson at 557-6085 or Supervisor Boyar at 557-8901 to volunteer.