September 6, 2011
A piece of the World Trade Center will live forever in the metro-east
On Monday, as usual, people lined Illinois Street in Belleville, ready for the music, the candy and the marchers of the annual Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council Labor Day Parade.But the mood turned somber and a hush fell along the street as a truck passed carrying a twisted, rusted steel beam that once was part of the World Trade Center in New York.The steel beam, escorted by an honor guard of firefighters leading the parade, brought varied reactions. Those who could stood in honor. A few applauded. But most watched in awed silence as the reminder of the horrible destruction and death from 9/11 rolled by.The artifact is 35-feet long and weighs 7,100 pounds. It carried black wreaths in remembrance of the thousands who died near it Sept. 11, 2001 and red, white and blue bunting and American flags in honor of those carrying on.The beam will be the centerpiece of the Sept. 11 Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois at the Belleville fire station at the intersection of Illinois 159 and Illinois 15.The piece of steel is twisted slightly and the flanges of the I-beam are out of parallel. It also has been ripped in places."It's a vertical beam," said Scott Lanxon. Belleville fire chief. "You can see where floors were attached and just ripped away. You can only imagine how much force it took to do all that."After the solemn minutes came the fun as union members from all over the area walked in a show of solidarity, throwing candy and greeting members of the watching crowd.Entire families walked together. Some retirees rode and marching bands from Belleville East and Belleville West high schools played. Children and a few adults were busy scrambling for candy thrown from the marchers."Union Bred -- Union Fed," said the sign on the back of one wagon hauling a small child.After the parade truck, from Greentree Transportation Co., which donated the move of the beam from the East Coast, was parked across from Franklin School near Hough Park and the picnic, and people came by to see the beam up close."It's chilling," one woman said. "Amazing. Neat. Awesome," others chimed in.Gary Meyer of Belleville, a retired boilermaker, stepped off the length of the beam alongside the truck. Thirty-six feet, he guessed. Close."It's great," he said. "It should make people stand up and take notice. It could happen again. We have to get together and make sure we can stop it."
Source: Belleville News Democrat