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Salem Fire Department set to unveil Sept. 11 memorial

Posted by Justin Rice  September 8, 2011 10:17 PM

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Justin A. Rice for

Salem Firefighters Manny Ataide, left, and Scott Hebert hold a plaque that will be mounted to a memorial featuring a steel I-beam from the World Trade Center in New York. The new 9/11 memorial will be unveiled outside the downtown fire station on Sunday.

The Salem Fire Department will hold its annual ceremony in honor of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks at 10 a.m. on Sunday at its downtown headquarters on Lafayette Street. But this year’s event will be extra special as it includes the unveiling of a new memorial featuring a portion of a rusted steel beam pulled from the ruble at ground zero 10 years ago.

“We do a ceremony every year but it’s a little bigger this time,” Salem Fire Chief David Cody said. “Normally we have about 50 people. We’re expecting a couple hundred on Sunday. I honestly at this point don’t know [what it will be like]. It’s an emotional day for everyone, especially for firefighters.”

Salem Firefighters Manny Ataide and Tom Brophy started planning the memorial about a year-and-a-half ago after Ataide found a news story that said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was making the steel from the Trade Centers available to communities and organizations across the country in honor of Sept. 11.

“I thought it was a great idea and I approached the chief,” said Ataide, who joined the Army Reserves after the terror attacks at the World Trade Center and served two tours of duty in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. “I filled out an application … I knew it would be a lot of work. I knew it wasn’t just going to be throwing a piece of steel in the ground.”

The $10,000 memorial, which was paid for entirely by donations and private contributions, includes a bronze plaque dedicated to all who died on Sept. 11, 2001. The steel beam is bolted to a rose-colored granite stone and two gray granite replicas of the twin towers stand behind it. Flowers and trees are planted around the memorial, built in an old flower bed outside the station’s front bay.

The Salem High School band will perform at the ceremony and members of the Salem Police Department will also attend the event.

The memorial is highly visible to pedestrians walking past the Lafayette Street station.

“That’s the whole point, that’s what we want people to do, come up and touch it and connect in a different way than just watching a video,” Ataide said.

When the memorial ceremony is complete, Ataide will continue to try to figure out what part of the Trade Center the steel beam comes from. Ataide said markings on the beam could eventually identify it, but he believes it might come from the part of the building impacted by the planes.

“We don’t know exactly where yet,” he said. “We’re still doing research. Hopefully we’re going to get all that stuff.”

Boston Globe Staff Reporter Kathy McCabe contributed to this report.

Justin A. Rice can be reached at

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