In the nearly 20 years since 9/11, people have put up dozens of memorials in honor of the event around the state of Michigan. They range in size from plaques at the bottom of flag poles to full-scale installations in community centers. Many include pieces of the World Trade Center itself, salvaged from New York in the aftermath.
“It’s meaningful for many people for many reasons,” said Peter Colovos, who spearheaded the installation of an entire plaza in Benton Harbor dedicated in memory of the event with the help of his wife, Cynthia, and a team of others. “It’s seared in everyone’s memory, where you were that day and what you were doing. We want to honor what happened and remember it.”
While many memorials are in Metro Detroit, public and private installations exist around the state. A sampling includes:
The 9/11 Resiliency Plaza, as Colovos calls it, sits in front of a city fire station, across from City Hall and near a public park.
Its major feature is a 500-pound section of steel beam from the World Trade Center, which is elevated on two concrete structures meant to mimic the Twin Towers themselves.
“They’re also representative of the human form,” said Colovos, a real estate developer.
The site is at 201 E. Wall St. in Benton Harbor.
The city of Lansing has a 900-pound piece of steel from the World Trade Center, city Parks and Recreation Director Brett Kaschinske said.
The piece sits in Wentworth Park, which sits along the Grand River and has several other memorials. The memorial was dedicated in 2002, one year after the 9/11 attacks.
“Our firefighters and our police department have a ceremony there every year and will continue to have one every year. I don’t see that ending,” Kaschinske said. “It allows us to reflect and remember.”
The installation includes the names of the Michigan victims of the attacks. Nearby, the state trees of the states where attacks took place — New York, Virginia (where the Pentagon was attacked) and Pennsylvania (where Flight 93 crash-landed after passengers attempted to regain control of a plane that was believed to be heading toward Washington, D.C.) have been planted in memory.
The site itself is accessible any time of the year. Kaschinske said lights on the installation help people appreciate it at night as well.
In New Buffalo, visitors can see an eight-foot beam from Ground Zero featured in a memorial garden.
The piece is 1,450 pounds, according to the city. In the walkway nearby, two black squares representing the Twin Towers have informative plaques embedded in the concrete.
The beam sits in a bed of roses with signs and a seating wall for visitors to use.
To visit, go to New Buffalo’s Memorial Park. It sits next to the New Buffalo Township Building, 17425 Red Arrow Highway in New Buffalo.
The New Haven Fire Department has its own small piece of the World Trade Center.
The piece of steel is part of a memorial that includes several symbols of the first responders to the attacks. It sits in the apparatus bay, Assistant Fire Chef Daniel Stier said, and people see it and take photos during events at the station like pancake breakfasts and other community gatherings.
“Parents use it to explain what happened to their kids,” Stier said. “These kids weren’t born yet, but it’s a nice piece of history for them to use and understanding.”
The memorial is at the fire department, 57775 Main St. in New Haven.
A piece of a beam from the World Trade Center sits on a stone monument along the Portland Riverwalk.
The installation includes a plaque explaining the piece’s significance. It is dedicated to those who both died in the attacks and to those who helped with recovery efforts.
To visit, go to Two Rivers Park in Portland. It is in the northern part of the park, along the Riverwalk and near the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
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