Steel from the World Trade Center is part of a new 9/11 memorial near Denver airport

Speakers encouraged Americans to never forget the significance of the day

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On a small field just behind the garage doors at Denver Fire Department’s House 35 on E. 75th Avenue sits a mangled piece of steel. Recovered from the World Trade Center, the worn piece of metal represents incredible loss.

Installed this summer, 20 years after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, this is now a permanent location for reflection of the emotions from that tragic day.

“9/11 are numbers that are forever seared into our consciousness. We hear that combination of numbers and are instantly transported back to that day. We recall where we were, who we were with, what we were doing. And that abrupt interruption,” said Mary Dulacki, the chief deputy executive director for Denver's Department of Safety.

On Sept. 10, the eve of the 20th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, Denver International Airport, the Denver Fire Department, the Denver Police Department and the Denver Department of Public Safety dedicated a 9/11 memorial to honor the fallen civilians and first responders. 

“On this infamous day, four separate planes were hijacked and intentionally crashed — one into the Pentagon, one into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and two into the World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 innocent people on one of the worst days in our history,” said Denver Fire Chief Desmond Fulton.

Standing in front of the memorial, DIA's CEO, Phil Washington, brought focus to the heroes from that day.

“It changed not just the aviation industry forever, but it changed this country forever. On that horrific day 20 years ago we saw the heroic efforts from emergency responders: police, fire, paramedics. We also saw such effort from airline employees, passengers and so many others,” Washington said.

The piece of steel was donated by the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of terrorism through education, empowerment and engagement.

The ceremony included a moment of silence, a solemn song led by the sound of bagpipes and the laying of two wreaths. It also paid honor to lives lost in the years since 9/11.

“Over the last 20 years, the United States as lost an additional 7,072 people fighting evil that visited New York on that Tuesday morning. This includes the 13 lives that were lost in Kabul just a few weeks ago, rescuing Americans and those fleeing Afghanistan,” said Denver Police Department Commander Mark Chuck.

Many speakers encouraged Americans to never forget the significance of this day – but also to keep looking forward with a commitment to improved safety and performance of first responders.

“In honor of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and those who responded to the unthinkable 20 years ago, let us remember the spirit of resilience that we exhibited so brilliantly after that unimaginative tragedy,” added Dulacki. “Let us unite again to address what often appear as insurmountable challenges, but which we know we can handle."

It is a long way from home — nearly 1,800 miles — but this piece of steel has found purpose in the heart of Colorado, forever a reminder of a nation’s pain, gratitude, and resilience.

This story is from Rocky Mountain PBS, a nonprofit public broadcaster providing community stories across Colorado over the air and online. Used by permission. For more, and to support Rocky Mountain PBS, visit rmpbs.org.

For a video of this story, click here.

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