Traveling memorial is a reminder of a day people should never forget
The section of twisted structural steel from the World Trade Center in New York ended up in their hands by accident.
But West Harrison resident and Goodtimers Club member Robert Rudy said club members saw it as an opportunity to do a lot of good.
Originally donated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the steel is owned by the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati.
A few years ago the club’s nonprofit, The Goodtimers Foundation, displayed the steel during its big annual fundraiser, the Goodtimers Freedom Ride, a motorcycle ride and music festival. It was an idea spearheaded by one of the member’s daughters, Tracy Glaser.
The foundation was started by club members after the terrorist attacks, including the World Trade Center, that took place Sept. 11, 2001. In the past 15 years, the group has raised and distributed over $307,000 to local charities, including veterans and emergency workers.
The Goodtimers Club itself is a fraternal group that socializes and enjoys sports together based in Cincinnati.
Rudy’s father, Alan, was one of the founders of the club and he followed in his dad’s footsteps, which were big shoes to fill, said Rudy.
After the steel was displayed during one of the Freedom Rides, it was decided to bring it back a couple years later. At that time they were told they would need to find a way to transport the steel themselves, he said.
He had a trailer, so with the help of Tracy’s husband, Tony, they were able to transport the steel to the event, said Rudy.
He then realized they should find a way to keep the steel traveling to different events, he said.
“We needed to keep this on the road. We need to teach our children never to forget,” said Rudy.
The Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati and Goodtimers Foundation joined forces, allowing the volunteers from the foundation to manage the steel, forming 911 Steel, “a traveling memorial to the 9/11 tragedy and the resiliency of America.”
Last year The Goodtimers Club bought a new trailer for the steel, but a Cincinnati company has helped take it to the next level.
Now, the memorial will also include a stainless steel replica of the original World Trade Center along with special lighting and signage. The “twin towers” were fabricated by EnerFab, a Cincinnati-based design engineering and steel fabrication company, along with members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 105. New lighting for the memorial is being designed and installed by The Garden Path Landscape Services, LLC.
About a year ago, Rudy spoke to the employees of EnerFab about the memorial during an annual safety luncheon.
The company responded like “gangbusters” also completing the work for a better trailer mounting for the steel, as well as the World Trade Center replica at no charge, said Rudy.
“We are extremely proud of this memorial, and grateful to Enerfab, the Boilermakers and Garden Path Landscape,” said Paul Weber, a board member with the Cincinnati Fire Museum. “As a retired Cincinnati firefighter who lost two friends in the World Trade Center attacks, the 911 Steel memorial has a special place in my heart.”
Rudy said he hopes to find a place to store the memorial for viewing when it is not on the road. Last year it traveled over 2,500 miles. He also is working with a school in Fairfield to create some interactive materials for students to use when viewing the memorial.
The traveling memorial is available for display free of charge for police, fire departments, schools and government organizations. A donation is requested from other groups to help cover expenses, said Rudy.
The newly renovated 911 Steel memorial will be unveiled in a ceremony at the Green Township Administration building, 6303 Harrison Ave., at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 30. Green Township was chosen for the unveiling because it is the site of another 9/11 memorial, which consists of the other half of the steel beam from which the traveling memorial was created. The event is free and open to the public.
The traveling memorial also will appear in the Findlay Market Reds Opening Day Parade Monday, April 3.
A fundraiser for the memorial, the 911 Steel Country Music Marathon will take place at The Pirate’s Den, 3670 Werk Road, Cincinnati, Sunday, April 2, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
General admission tickets are $10 each, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserved tables, for four individuals each, are available in advance at prices ranging from $80 to $400, depending on sponsorship level and whether food is included. Tickets can be purchased at www.911Steel.brownpapertickets.com.
For more information about the concert, call 1-513-608-6209. Information about the 911 Steel memorial is available at www.911Steel.com.