Hundreds of people gathered around the warped, 14-foot steel beam that jutted out from at Croton Landing Park Tuesday.
The memories evoked by the gnarled piece of metal may have differed slightly from person to person. But the underlying feelings of hope and sadness the monument evoked during Tuesday’s Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at Croton-on-Hudson seemed to form an emotional bond among the attendees.
“The value of this memorial on this beam, on this shore, is all about resilience,” said Leo Weigman, mayor of Croton-on-Hudson. “Where do we go from here? How do we work together? That’s what it says to me. Even as tortured as these shear bolts are on the top of the beam that point at every which way. When I first saw the beam, they looked like a row of people marching into the future with heads turned every which way.”
Mary Cain lost her stepson, George Cain, during the terrorist attacks. George was a member of the New York City Fire Department’s Ladder 7 and died when World Trade Center collapsed.
“Today is the first day that I can honestly say that I feel peaceful,” Cain said. “I’m not as sad as I have been in the past. Just to look at this beam, that was so much a part of our tower and to see it rising toward the heavens has given me peace on this day.”
Sara Sprance, who sang a rendition of “God Bless America” during the ceremony, said she almost decided not to attend. Sprance’s husband, Randall Sprance, was one of the federal workers dispatched to Ground Zero to help retrieve the personal belongings of those killed during the attacks.
Sprance said her husband contracted lung after shortly after working on the site and died from the disease on March 12, 2004. Sprance said she was shaking during the most of the ceremony, but that it becomes easier to deal with her husband’s death as time passes.
“It’s good that our hometown recognizes him, even if no one else does, because the media has no clue about the second responders,” Sprance said.
Tuesday’s ceremony also acted as a dedication for the first phase of the memorial. A group of 16 active volunteers, including Cain and Sprance, from Cortlandt, Croton and Buchanan formed a task force the past two years to help build the site. The project was funded by community donations and town and village contributions.
Linda Puglisi, Cortlandt’s town supervisor, said she is pleased with the memorial so far.
“It’s on the Hudson River and that was important to me and to all of us,” Puglisi said. “One of the plane flew over the Hudson River, right over this location, and we wanted to stand up tall and pay tribute to our country, our people, our heroes and victims. We wanted to say, together, collectively, that we will prevail . They cannot break our will.”
Janet Mainiero, chairwoman of the task force, said the second phase of the monument’s installation involves the creation of a bronze woman reaching up from underneath the steel beam.
Mainiero said an engineer estimated that the second phase of the project could cost as $45,000 .
“We’re hoping to get some other in-kind services, so the cost won’t be as high,” she said.
Additional information on the memorial task force can be found here.