Local World Trade Center Survivor to Address 9/11 Observation
Man who escaped second tower will help dedicate memorial with piece of Twin Towers as focal point at Darien-Woodridge Fire District’s headquarters.
Eight years to the day from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Darien-Woodridge Fire District Chief David Lambright sent an email to the Port Authorities of New York and New Jersey.
He was responding to their announcement that pieces of the World Trade Center wreckage would be made available for distribution to sites across the country.
In just a little more than a week and a half from now — two years from the day Lambright sent that email, 10 years from the day the towers came crashing down — Darien-Woodridge will commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 with the dedication of a memorial. At its center will rest a 3-foot section of steel I-beam pulled from the ruins of the World Trade Center.
“To have a piece of the steel, it’s a huge monument and a payment of honor and respect to all who died that day,” Lambright said.
It will also be a testament to those who survived that day, many as a result of the bravery of firefighters, police and other civilians.
One such survivor, now a Darien resident, will tell his story at the memorial’s dedication at 8:45 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Darien-Woodridge’s headquarters, 7550 Lyman Ave., Darien, Ill. The man, whose name has not yet been released, was in the south tower when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into it, Lambright said.
“He escaped maybe 15 minutes before it collapsed and was on a pay phone with his wife when the building came down,” he said. “His is one of the million amazing stories from that day.”
While the survivor will share his story of hope, the ceremony also will honor the sacrifices of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
At some point in every firefighter’s career there’s a day when he isn’t sure he’s going to make it out alive, Lambright said. For that to happen 343 times over on Sept. 11, he said, was horrific.
“A lot of these firefighters were being given their last rites in the stairwells,” he said. “When some went up, they surely knew they weren’t going to come out. They knew their fate was sealed.”
Darien-Woodridge Fire Prevention Director Robert Morris said it is difficult to describe the relationship he as a firefighter feels with the steel beam and what it represents.
“Most firefighters recall seeing people were in the buildings and knowing they were dying,” he said. “There’s certainly a brotherhood and a closeness among firefighters because (on 9/11) they knowingly went into a dangerous situation. As they say, all gave some and some gave all.”
The beam itself arrived at the Darien-Woodridge headquarters via UPS about a month ago, Morris said. The driver didn’t even know what it was — just that, at about 100 pounds, it was heavy.
It will rest on a concrete bed marked now with a vertical obelisk that soon will support the beam, Morris said.
There it will serve as a place to reflect and a place to remember what happened a decade ago in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
“Everyone was affected in some way,” Lambright said. “The dedication will be kind of somber, but at the same time we have to hold our heads up and say we survived.”