Monday, November 22, 2010

Tallapoosa gets 9/11 artifact

by Kelly Quimby/Tallapoosa Journal
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Tallapoosa is now home to a piece of American history. Unveiled on Veterans Day, a remnant of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City is now on display at the West Georgia Museum of Tallapoosa.

Mayor Pete Bridges and his wife Barbara drove to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on Oct. 27 to pick up a piece of twisted metal, which had been recovered at ground zero in Manhattan.

Deemed “Artifact #G-0076” by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the 60-inch piece of metal is on display with a video and photos at the West Georgia Museum, though the plan is to eventually install it in Tallapoosa’s Veterans Memorial Park.

“We may be the only persons in Georgia that have a piece of the World Trade Center,” Bridges said. “We were told when we picked it up that they’re no longer giving out artifacts.”

The city learned that it could obtain a piece of the buildings’ wreckage after reading an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which was a reprinted version of an article in the New York Times. Bridges and City Planning Coordinator Patrick Clarey contacted the Port Authority about receiving an artifact, and applied Sept. 18, 2009. It was not until July 22 of this year that the city was approved to receive the artifact, and still another three months before it was in the hands of the mayor.

“We were patient,” Clarey said. “We sent certified letters to Congressman [Phil] Gingrey and [Sen.] Johnny Isakson and then it went pretty fast for an organization that big.”

The Port Authority informed the city of Tallapoosa that it would receive the artifact after District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein of New York signed an order granting the city ownership.

The city is working with Haralson County Veterans Association President and County Commissioner Sammy Robinson and architect Tim Pope to find a permanent home for the artifact in the League Lowe Veterans Memorial Park. According to a press release from the city, “the hope is that the monument will be erected and unveiled for the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.”

“We’ll check and see what the regulations are and design a proper place for it in the park,” Robinson said. “Until we can do what we want to do, it’ll be housed in the museum.”

Clarey said that the intent of obtaining the metal was to serve as a reminder of that period in American history.

“We thought it would be pretty awesome, really, to get people to remember what happened,” he said.

While the metal is being housed at the museum, it is being displayed with a nearly 2-hour documentary video on the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.

Tallapoosa’s was one of 900 requests for artifacts being released by the Port Authority, all from the World Trade Center buildings, which the authority owned before their destruction.

Clarey said the city also obtained video documenting the construction of the twin towers, along with a book chronicling the events, which are also on hand at the museum.

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