MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — Now 22 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, a steel beam from the World Trade Center can still be found in Rutherford County, where it serves as a memorial honoring the 2,977 people who died that day.
The 3,000-pound I-beam from the North Tower is among more than 2,600 pieces of steel and other remnants of the World Trade Center that wound up in communities across all 50 states in the years following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Many of the artifacts recovered from the site were stored in an airport hangar until 2010, when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began distributing them as a way to find permanent homes that would preserve their history.
At the conclusion of the six-year distribution program, most items had found their way to museums, schools, town governments, nonprofit organizations, emergency response departments and other community groups including police, fire and law enforcement.
Some artifacts were also given to military bases and other locations in nine foreign countries.
“Not only do these artifacts help us to never forget, but it also represents our hope for an end to terrorism,” Joseph W. Pfeifer, former Chief of Counterterrorism and Emergency Preparedness for the FDNY said in a news release following the distribution program’s conclusion.
More than 1,890 pieces of the steel that was distributed during that time are on permanent display in memorials erected mostly in suburban areas like the one at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office in Murfreesboro.
The 3,000-pound I-beam, which points directly at New York City, is held up by three posts representing the 343 New York City firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers and eight emergency medical services personnel who died while saving others.
Debris under the I-beam shows some items people in the World Trade Center likely had in their offices. Bricks in front of the beam also memorialize lost loved ones who have served in the military or in another public service.
Four planter urns surrounding the steel beam represent the four hijacked airplanes that crashed that day, including the crew and passengers who lost their lives when they diverted the plane from the U.S. Capitol into a field in Pennsylvania.
“We should always remember the sacrifices they made,” Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said in a social media post prior to the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The sheriff’s office traditionally holds an annual ceremony remembering the victims of the attacks, but the event was reportedly paused this year because of scheduling conflicts. The memorial remains open daily for visitors.