Unique 9/11 Memorial Coming to the Bayshore

September 9, 2017
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Cliff Moore, Keansburg’s economic community development coordinator, stands beside a foundation of the first 9/11 memorial in the country dedicated to emergency medical service personnel.

By Jay Cook |

KEANSBURG – Sixteen years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks shook our country, the first memorial in the United States honoring emergency medical services members who risked their lives to help the victims is set to be built later next year in Keansburg.

A collaboration between the EMS Council of New Jersey and the Borough of Keansburg will be the driving force in creating the first-of-its-kind memorial.

“I’m almost positive we were chosen because of our view directly across to New York City,” Keansburg Mayor George Hoff said. “Sixteen years ago I remember standing out on that beachwalk and watching the smoke come out over our heads.”

The new memorial is still in the design phase, but aspects of the installation, like the location, have been decided. It will sit on a 24-by-30-foot area along the dunes and newly-rebuilt beachwalk on Beachway Avenue, located across the street from La Playa restaurant.

Beside the new site sits an existing 9/11 memorial, also 24-by-30 feet in area, which includes three benches, a plaque, flagpole, and an inscribed remembrance headstone.

Cliff Moore, Keansburg’s economic community development coordinator, said the EMS memorial will have a number of different features. The centerpiece to the project is a snarled, 5-foot-long, 338-pound portion of rusted steel from the World Trade Center. The piece of steel measures 34 inches wide and 29 inches high.

Moore said it will be mounted on a massive rock which washed up in Keansburg after Super Storm Sandy. That rock currently rests in the parking lot of the 9/11 memorial site. He said the rock would be placed in between a replica of the Twin Towers, fashioned in a manner where it will line up with where the towers last stood nearly 16 years ago.

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“It’s easily accessible and an area well served by EMS volunteers,” said Joseph G. Walsh, Jr. president of the EMS Council of New Jersey, about why Keansburg was chosen. “In addition, its beautiful Raritan Bay coastline offers a view of the Manhattan skyline, which will help visitors appreciate the memorial’s significance.”

The EMS Council of New Jersey first acquired the section of World Trade Center steel in 2011 after it was provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The group is one of 1,132 organizations that have been awarded Twin Tower rubble artifacts after the terrorist attacks.

The EMS Council of New Jersey obtained the five-foot-long piece of World Trade Center steel in 2011 from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The organization has been searching since then to find a final resting spot for the piece of steel. In March, Walsh sent a letter to Monmouth County Freeholder Lilian G. Burry requesting the artifact be considered as an addition to the Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook Park 9/11 memorial, but that never materialized.

That installation in Atlantic Highlands hosts a piece of World Trade Center steel grasped in the claws of a bald eagle, with inscriptions of the names of the 147 Monmouth County residents who lost their lives in the attacks. It also has a timeline path marking out the significant moments of that morning.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Keansburg project is set for Sept. 10 at 1 p.m., which Keansburg and EMS Council of New Jersey officials will attend. Moore said residents from all around are welcome to the event.

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Both parties hope to have the EMS-centered 9/11 memorial completed and opened by September 2018.

Regardless of the timeline, Walsh said his organization is relieved to find a final resting place for the new artifact.

“Although it’s a sad reminder of that horrific day, the Twin Towers steel beam also represents spirit and resilience, which are necessary attributes for EMS providers,” he said. “We are immensely grateful for being entrusted with its guardianship.”

This article was first published in the Sept. 7-14, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.

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