A piece of steel from the World Trade Center has been donated to the Londonderry, N.H. fire department by a charity honoring the memory of a New York City firefighter killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The steel, engraved with “WTC 9/11” and “NEVERFORGET”, arrived by a special escort Friday organized by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
It was donated to thank Londonderry firefighters for their assistance ensuring that a piece of steel from the fallen twin towers safely made it to Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada, three years ago, the foundation said in a press release.
That piece of steel was given to the airport to commemorate its efforts on Sept. 11, 2001, when 38 planes filled with 6,595 passengers were diverted there when US airspace was closed due to the attacks.
In 2016, while the steel was on its way to Canada, Michael Roberts, then a Londonderry fire lieutenant and a deputy sheriff in Rockingham County, helped ensure the steel’s safe passage through New Hampshire.
Despite adverse weather, Roberts made sure the steel was safely transported to Kittery, Maine, where it was handed off to other officials, according to the release.
“They couldn’t have been any nicer when we brought the steel up to Gander into Newfoundland,” Frank Siller, chief executive of the nonprofit that honors his brother, said in an interview. “They gave us such a beautiful escort. They treated the steel with such dignity.”
Siller noted that the steel “represents a tremendous sacrifice that was made by so many people on 9/11” including many firefighters.
“We lost 343 firefighters that day, one of which was my brother,” he said. “We look at that steel, that it has the soul of many people in it because so many people were not recovered from ground zero, once again, including my brother.”
The steel arrived in Londonderry in a convoy that included several of the town’s own police and firefighters who traveled to New York for the journey.
Michael McQuillen, operations chief for the Londonderry Fire Department, said that the department is honored to receive its own piece of steel.
“For us it’s a pretty big honor just in light of what happened that day,” McQuillen said in a brief interview.
Several local officials were on hand to receive the steel when it arrived late Friday afternoon. It will be displayed in the lobby of fire headquarters, until a permanent memorial is built outside, McQuillen said.
“To be able to have a memorial where we can remind the future firefighters and police officers, the first responders that are coming into this profession . . . [about] what happened that day to our country,” McQuillen said. “It’s a huge honor for us.”