By Silas Allen
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Ten years ago, it was a beam in a wall of one of the key features of the New York skyline.
Today, the jagged and twisted length of steel sits in the lobby of a building in Stillwater to serve as a reminder of a tragedy that has shaped the world for 10 years since.
The steel beam, an artifact pulled from the remains of the World Trade Center after the two towers fell in 2001, is one of many the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey distributed to communities and groups nationwide. Oklahoma State University officially received the artifact at the International Fire Service Training Association’s annual conference this month.
The relic sits in a case in the lobby of the offices of Fire Protection Publications at OSU.
The artifact came from one of the center’s two towers, said Michael Wieder, the assistant director of Fire Protection Publications.
Beyond that, Wieder said, it’s difficult to be specific about its origin.
“It’s impossible to identify exactly where it came from,” he said.
The port authority has made a priority of preserving relics from the two towers and distributing many of them nationwide. Among items the port authority has preserved have been the last steel column removed from the site, emergency vehicles, 18 sections of the World Trade Center antenna and two Port Authority Trans-Hudson, or PATH, train cars.
In a release, Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia said the port authority had a vested interest in preserving the memory of the attack.
“As an agency that lost 84 of its employees on 9/11, we feel it is our duty to make sure that this tragic day is never forgotten,” he said. “The twisted pieces of steel, the burned-out fire trucks and PATH rail cars that were salvaged from the rubble tell a story of devastation and heroism, and we will do whatever we can to make sure that the story will be told for generations to come.”
Wieder said Fire Protection Publications applied to receive the artifact last year after the publication’s marketing department learned the port authority had made a number of the relics available.
The artifact will remain on display in the publication’s office until two weeks before the beginning of the 2011 fall semester, Wieder said, at which point it will go on display in OSU President Burns Hargis’ office. The display will remain in Hargis’ office for three weeks, then it will return to Fire Protection Publications.
Today, the display sits next to a similar reminder of another act of terrorism. The office’s lobby also contains an engraved stone that once was a part of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. The building was destroyed in a 1995 bombing.
To view the artifact, visit the Fire Prevention Publications office, 930 N. Willis St., weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.