WTC Memorials in South Bay

wtc.jpgSeveral cities in southwestern Los Angeles County have erected memorials to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and to victims of Flight 93. Among them are the cities of Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Lomita and Torrance. Now, the city of Redondo Beach will be joining the list as they expect to receive a 300-pound beam fragment from the WTC as a gift from FDNY. The Redondo Beach Firefighters have established a strong relationship with the New York Firefighters. Read about how the beam fragment came to be delivered to the city and about the experiences of the firefighters in the South Bay Daily Breeze article below the fold.

World Trade Center beam arrives in Redondo

Officials are seeking the best way to display 300-pound gift from New York.

Two years have passed since a Redondo Beach police officer and fire captain first inquired about getting a piece of the World Trade Center towers.

Having forged ties with a fire station in Brooklyn and visited Ground Zero, officer Rich Sigler and fire Capt. Bob Franck wanted their city to display a physical reminder of the Americans who lost their lives on 9-11.

Time passed as they waited for a response. And then 10 days ago, Redondo Beach Fire Station No. 1 got the shipment, a small wooden crate packed with a 300-pound, 25-by-16-inch piece of one of the tower’s inner beams.

“You don’t take this and put it in a library in a glass box,” said Franck, a 29-year department veteran. “People (will) go to it and want to touch it and be with it.”

And so local leaders are now considering how best to display it, making Redondo Beach the second South Bay city to incorporate part of the World Trade Center into a local 9-11 memorial.

Manhattan Beach already has begun designing a monument with two 16-foot-high steel girders, a structure that will stand at 15th Street and Valley Drive, just outside the new police and fire facility. Fire Chief Dennis Groat said the beams were a gift from a recycling company with an office on Terminal Island, which was helping with the cleanup and whose general manager lives in Manhattan Beach.

Franck and Sigler want the Redondo Beach memorial to pay tribute to the civilians, airline employees, Pentagon workers and police and firefighters who died on 9-11. But even more, they say, the monument will symbolize a relationship between Redondo firefighters and their counterparts 3,000 miles away in New York.

The ties were forged March 2, 2002, when Brooklyn firefighter Bob Senn came to the South Bay to talk about his experience.

Senn, of Engine Co. 207, stood before a roomful of firefighters that Saturday morning and described his company’s rush to the World Trade Center. While he was in the lobby of the north tower, the Daily Breeze reported, the south tower collapsed, throwing him across the lobby and burying him up to his armpits in debris.

With other rescue workers, Senn managed to crawl out of the building and into the financial center next door. But then the north tower fell, throwing him 40 to 50 feet into a wrought-iron fence and filling his mouth with dust and rocks. After another firefighter picked him up out of the rubble, he was treated for severe burns to his eyes.

“I want you guys to know that wherever you’re from,” he told the crowd, “we’re all in the same boat.”

That story stuck with Franck, who said he stayed in touch with Senn after he left and still speaks to him 15 to 30 times a week. Franck said he flies to New York about twice a year, and Senn and his wife have returned several times to California.

“My children call him Uncle Bob,” said Franck, the father of two teenagers. “Just when we met that first time, it was like, God, it’s like I’ve known you my whole life.”

Franck and Sigler, who also has traveled to Manhattan with his teenage daughter, said it was Senn who helped direct them to the right people concerning a local World Trade Center memorial.

He said Redondo’s piece of steel had been under the control of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and had been stored on Randall’s Island before it made its way to Fire Station No. 1.

“They’re being very careful in who gets this,” he said. “Finally, we got the call that it was being cut and shipped. … It’s a gift from the Fire Department of New York.”