At the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial, a daylong observance occurs on each anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The ceremonies always begin at 8:46 a.m., the time hijackers flew the first plane into the World Trade Center, but memorial committee secretary Jill Gosche always gets there well early.
“I always go early to help lower the flags to half-staff and shine up the memorial’s granite,” Gosche says. “I feel that the site needs to be top-notch and kept clean out of respect for those who gave so much on 9/11.”
The Tiffin memorial’s centerpiece is a 17.5-foot-long steel beam recovered from the World Trade Center. It weighs more than 3 tons and rests on a pentagon-shaped piece of granite that alludes to the strike on America’s military headquarters. Positioned at an angle of 9.11 degrees, the beam sits low to the ground so people can touch it. “When rust particles drop off that beam, they almost seem like tears,” observes Gosche.
Someone once tucked a single red rose into the beam, and that poignant gesture inspired the cover photo of the book Gosche wrote — If the Beam Could Talk — about 9/11 and the effort Tiffin residents put into creating a memorial to both the thousands of lives lost that day and local first responders. Her intention was to ensure that future generations would forget neither the deaths nor the destruction in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. “Every American was affected by 9/11,” Gosche says. “We all felt the attacks that day.”
Sept. 11 memorials exist throughout the state. Like Tiffin’s, many of those places of remembrance display pieces of wreckage obtained by everyday Ohioans who were and are dedicated to preserving them as historic artifacts and evidence of the attacks. Each one, however, pays tribute to the heartbreak and heroism of that dreadful day. With 9/11’s 20th anniversary occurring this month, here is a selection of some of Ohio’s memorials.
Alliance - 9/11 Memorial
Alliance’s former safety-service director, W. John Gross, spearheaded one of the nation’s most unusual memorials, which was inspired by an American flag planted on mutilated pieces of the twin towers’ aluminum “skin.” Instead of structural steel, it showcases aluminum panels that were salvaged from the debris and installed in a park in the same north-and-south orientation as the twin towers.
Austintown - 9/11 Memorial Park
Visitors follow paths to two twisted beams from the World Trade Center, stone from the Pentagon’s rubble, and an urn containing earth from Shanksville’s crash site. Inscribed with the words “Let’s Roll,” the urn’s pedestal recalls the famous words of Todd Beamer, one of the passengers who confronted United Flight 93’s hijackers.
Beavercreek - 9/11 Memorial
A mangled piece of steel once located between the north tower’s 101st and 105th floors now punctuates the memorial at Beavercreek Station bike trail hub. The 25-foot-tall relic is surrounded by panels that display a 9/11 timeline and the names of all who died.
Columbus - Ohio Statehouse Flag Display
For 9/11’s 20th anniversary, volunteers will place 2,977 American flags — one for every person killed — on the Ohio Statehouse’s west lawn in a pattern that signifies a pentagon-shaped open space surrounded by the twin towers. Between the stylized towers, a strip of grass represents Flight 93’s crash in Shanksville.
Eastlake - America Remembers 9/11 Memorial
Adjacent to city hall, Eastlake’s memorial includes a lamppost and beam from the World Trade Center, grass from the Shanksville crash site, and granite from the Pentagon. It’s part of Eastlake’s Boulevard of 500 Flags, a stunning red, white, and blue salute to veterans.
Gibsonburg - Public Safety Service Memorial
One of the World Trade Center’s largest remnants — a 36-foot-long, 7,000-pound section of the north tower’s antenna — provides a dramatic focal point for Gibsonburg’s combination 9/11 and first responders memorial. Fittingly enough, a model of New York’s new One World Trade Center (which also was the north tower’s name) supports the hulking antenna.
Groveport - 9/11 Collection at the Motts Military Museum
“When they see the fire truck, I’ve had people cry or step back because it’s such a powerful statement about 9/11,” says Warren Motts, founding director of the Motts Military Museum. Crushed during the north tower’s collapse, the truck is the crumpled remains of the New York Fire Department’s Ladder 18 and the crown jewel of the museum’s considerable collection of 9/11 artifacts. Pending construction of a new wing, the fire engine is housed in a storage building that Motts opens to visitors on Thursdays at 10 a.m.
Hilliard - First Responders Park
At a handsome park in the heart of Hilliard, tons of contorted steel from the World Trade Center contrast with sleek, black granite walls engraved with the names of those who perished on 9/11. Also on-site are a reflecting pool and a unique sculpture with metal figures representing victims and first responders.
Swanton - Northwest Ohio 9/11 Memorial, Ohio Air National Guard Base
The Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing was activated on Sept. 11, 2001, and today. its base near Toledo is the site of a 9/11 memorial with an ingenious sundial that chronicles the times of each attack. Individual glass stars made by a local artist pay homage to those killed that day (available by appointment only).
Tiffin - Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial
The only tree that withstood Ground Zero is a Callery pear that New York’s parks department rescued and revitalized. Thus, a Callery pear tree now graces the grounds of Tiffin’s memorial, and like the “survivor tree,” it’s a living symbol of rebirth and renewal.