By Jano Tantongco
Members of the Cold Spring Harbor Fire Department have brought home a piece of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Fire officials plan to use the steel as the basis for a memorial in Firemen’s Memorial Park, which is across the street from department headquarters at 2 Main St.
The steel, which is believed to have come from the 62nd floor of the North Tower, was one of the last artifacts given away by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from its storage facility at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. Fire department officials picked up the 17-foot, 18,000-pound beam from Hangar 17 at JFK early Wednesday morning.
Robert Thornton, fire department secretary, said he has been writing to the Port Authority for the last 14 years to request an artifact.
However when department member and former Port Authority police officer Thomas Buchta learned that the Port Authority hangar will be closing, he helped expedite the process.
Buchta told Port Authority officials that two Cold Spring Harbor lieutenants, brothers Dan and John Martin, lost their father on the day of the attacks. Lt. Peter Martin was a member of the New York City Fire Department Rescue Company 2 in Brooklyn.
After that, the request went through.
he and his brother John,.
“We’re very lucky to have a piece of the building,” Dan Martin, 2nd lieutenant, said. “I know that the pieces of steel are few and far between nearly 15 years later. This one is tremendous, which I think is a very powerful thing.”
Dan said he and his brother, who is the lieutenant of EMS, were inspired by their father to join the fire department.
He added, “The memorial we’ll be able to build should be able to convey the enormity of the buildings that were there.”
Once fire officials secured the steel, they brought it back to the Town of Huntington Recycling Facility on New York Avenue where it will be kept there until the department erects the memorial.
At the recycling facility, firemen lifted the flag covering the steel, while the sound of bagpipes rang in the background. Town of Huntington Councilman Eugene Cook, who attended the ceremony, thanked the fire department officials for all their work.
“When the firemen removed the flag, it sent chills up my spine,” Cook said. “This is a real memorial, and we need to take it right to the end and get it into the park and get it up. I’m excited about it, I’m glad that we have it.”