Steel beam for 9/11 memorial arrives in Federal Way | Slideshow

A piece of history from one of the nation’s darkest moments has arrived in Federal Way.

Two South King Fire and Rescue firefighters crisscrossed the country this month to retrieve a steel beam from the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

On that date, al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four passenger jets in a coordinated effort, then crashed the aircraft into the twin towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a rural field in Shanksville, Pa. The attacks were masterminded by Osama bin Laden, who was killed in May 2011 by U.S. special forces.

The steel beam will become part of a memorial in Federal Way to honor the nearly 3,000 victims who died in the attacks. The memorial will be dedicated Sept. 11, 2012, at fire station 64 at South 320th Street and Military Road. Over the next year, the fire district will raise money to fund the memorial.

On Aug. 10, Lt. Scott Mahlen and firefighter Sven Schievink embarked on the 55-hour trip to New York. It was an emotional experience for both men, especially Schievink, who grew up in New York and lost friends in the 9/11 attacks.

During the journey, they received meals and hospitality from friends of Schievink’s as well as fire stations across the country.

“We wanted to do this with honor and respect and bring this piece back to the Federal Way community so we can let the nation know that we haven’t forgotten,” Schievink said at a ceremony Aug. 30 at SKFR’s headquarters on 1st Avenue South.

Aside from celebrating the firefighters’ return, the ceremony paid tribute to Americans and public safety crews affected by 9/11.

“The steel is a reminder of the thousands of rescue workers and volunteers that worked feverishly for countless hours and long days in hopes of finding someone still alive in the rubble of the collapsed towers,” said Chaplain Corby Hunich to a crowd gathered around the steel beam, which was strapped to a trailer and draped with a U.S. flag. “I believe this steel is also a reminder to us of the strength and perseverance that united our nation together in the aftermath of this vicious attack on Americans.”

Fire officials including Chief Al Church touched on the emotional impact of 9/11 and thanked the firefighters for bringing a piece of history to Federal Way. SKFR board chairman Bill Gates noted the changes in everyday life since the attacks 10 years ago — such as the invention of Facebook and cellphone cameras — but also noted the things that have not changed.

“There are two things in life we can be certain of — death and taxes. I’d like to add a third,” he said. “We will never forget.”

See the steel beam

Click here for a photo slideshow from the Aug. 30 ceremony.

• South King Fire and Rescue will host another ceremony at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Celebration Park in Federal Way to honor the 10th anniversary of 9/11 along with the arrival of the steel beam. The public is welcome to attend.

• The steel beam will also be on display Sept. 3 at the Federal Way Farmers Market, which runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 31600 20th Ave. S. (near the transit center).

• To contribute to the memorial, mail tax-deductible donations to South King Firefighters Foundation, 31617 1st Ave. S., Federal Way, WA 98003.


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