A piece of steel cut from an I-beam from one of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers will be enshrined in a permanent memorial in Carmel’s Devendorf Park this September. The historic relic from Ground Zero made an extraordinary journey across the country after being cut by NYC firefighter Carl Sheetz, in a private ceremony in New York.
The tenacity of Carmel native, CarrieAnn, literally moved mountains to bring the piece of steel to Carmel. In August 2011, she learned that Carmel firefighters had been trying to have the events of 9/11 commemorated by acquiring a piece of Ground Zero steel. The deadline to request metal from the WTC had passed two years earlier. CarrieAnn believed that the steel would be symbolic of the strength, unity, and indomitable spirit of our nation. That’s when she swung into action. She emailed and telephoned the New York City mayor’s office, the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, and the New York Fire Commissioners office. In late October 2011 she received a call from retired New York firefighter and president of the 911 Families Foundation, Lee Lelpi.
“I don’t know who you wrote or spoke to, but I got a call from the New York Fire Commissioner himself, and he told me to see that you get your steel,” said Lelpi. Carrie held back the tears as she rushed to share the news with Carmel firefighters.
Now that she was going to get her piece of steel, CarrieAnn had to figure out how to get it to Carmel. Trucking it was too ordinary for her. Transporting the metal needed more heart…a way to show honor and respect to this relic of 9/11. Monterey Firefighters Association Chief Andrew Miller offered the organization’s assistance. Then she contacted the fire department in Carmel, NY, about 60 miles north of New York City. They were eager to help.
After the steel was cut, it was handed off to a first responder from the Carmel, NY, fire department. From there it followed a planned path on its 3,080-mile, cross-country journey from first responder to first responder, from city to city, from state to state, until it reached Carmel-by-the-Sea. The steel was accompanied along the entire route by Carmel and Monterey firefighters Robert Wilkins, Danny Givvin, and Ken Hutchinson.
On Sept. 11, 2001, CarrieAnn was living in Westport, Connecticut. While reflecting on those tragic events of a dozen years ago, she shared her thoughts:
“You cannot imagine how that day was,” she said. “It was like a never-ending movie outside your window. The air above Long Island Sound was filled with smoke and residue from the World Trade Center. And I was hit with the crushing realization that the smoke carried not only debris from the towers but the remains of the victims of that terrorist attack that left its dust on my car each morning. Our county, Fairfield, which is much smaller than Monterey County, lost 65 residents. We were having funerals in football fields. They went on for years as deaths of neighbors were confirmed.”
She believes the “Resolve and Remembrance” Memorial in Devendorf Park will be a reminder that all Americans were a part of that attack on our nation.
“It is only when strength faces the weakness of evil that we put our fears behind us and begin to heal. If this is the last thing I do on Earth, I want my legacy to children and the community to be that one person can make a difference.” The “Resolve & Remembrance” memorial will be an imposing granite boulder with the engraved piece of Ground Zero steel seemingly floating over it. Granite Rock and Granite Construction have donated the boulder. City appointed landscape designer Michelle Comeau will create the setting for the memorial at the Mission and 6th location.
The Carmel Plaza, thanks to Operations Manager Jim Griffith, will provide a location to host a “Resolve and Remembrance” exhibition from September 7-11 that will be open to the public. The exhibition will feature 9/11 artifacts and films of the steel’s journey across the country.
The memorial unveiling will be this Sept. 11, at Devendorf Park. At 9am, a procession with the steel, Monterey firefighters, Carmel police, Carmel American Legion, an honor guard with bag pipers and more, will leave Carmel City Hall and proceed up Ocean Avenue to the park.
More information on the memorial is available at www.carmel911memorial.us.