PALM HARBOR, Fla. — It’s been on the grounds of Curlew Memorial Gardens cemetery since 2012 and started with a request from an elementary classroom and a fire department.
“People come and find it and think, gosh, we didn’t know it was there," said Keenan Knopke, Curlew Memorial Gardens CEO.
“If I’m passing down Curlew Road I’m coming in," said retired NYC firefighter Rich Miccio.
When a 5th grade class at Ozona Elementary and the Palm Harbor fire department successfully applied to get a piece of steel from the Twin Towers, the question immediately became what to do with it. That’s when Knopke offered to cover the cost of building a memorial.
“We formed a committee. We met multiple times. The design changed several times. And we eventually ended up with what you have here today," said Knopke.
The twisted piece of steel is floating between a replica of the Twin Towers made using 30 tons of granite. There is also an eternal flame at its base. But what sets this memorial apart is how it honors everyone associated with the September 11th attacks. The firefighters, the police, the civilians, even the rescue and recovery workers who pass away each year.
Miccio visits here often.
“It’s beautiful. Number one, as you see when you go around you’ll see how it dedicates each and every person on those plaques. Firefighters, police. Port Authority police. Firefighters that have died down here that had a part in 9/11. You’ll see when you go around how beautiful it is," said Miccio.
Every year the committee works to add another feature. There is a memorial decided to those killed in the Benghazi embassy attack on September 11th, 2012 along with a bell from the last wooden ladder fire truck in New York City.
Every year the towers shine lights into the sky and people gather here for the ceremony. This year, the 20th anniversary will be the biggest event yet.
“You can’t forget history. Whether you like it or not, you can’t forget it. Because if you forget it, it will happen again," said Knopke.
For information on this year's anniversary memorial, click here.