By Brandi Makuski
Most adults can tell you exactly where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.
The date needs no introduction. It is forever marred by the deadliest attack on American soil; one we watched unfold on live television with searing images words can’t adequately describe. It’s a moment in time that feels just as painful today as it did 22 years ago.
For those of us old enough to remember life before 9/11, we recognize the date is a watershed moment. Life was simpler before the terrorist attacks that killed over 3,000 of our countrymen and women. But by mid-morning on Sept. 11, 2001, we realized our country was no longer invincible. We knew what it was like to live in a world of fear and uncertainty.
Today, we’re raising a generation who doesn’t remember the 9/11 attacks. Today’s high schoolers weren’t born yet. All they know is life afterward.
Much like other national tragedies, like preceding generations’ retelling of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 that was explained by our parents, the burden falls on us to ensure today’s young people carry on the national motto under which they were also born: “Never forget.”
Thanks to modern technology, virtually every moment of that day was captured by a news camera, a cell phone video, or the recording of a frantic call home from someone on one of four doomed airplanes, or trapped in a burning building, who knew they were about to die. As hard as it is to relive, these are relics of an important time in our country’s history, and they should be shared with our children.
Something else that can be shared with our children is the 9/11 Memorial in Plover. A piece of steel from an I-beam that provided floor support in the World Trade Center has been on public display since 2011 when then-Lt. Ryan Fox of the Plover Police Department helped the village acquire the piece as a permanent memorial. Pieces of I-beams from the Twin Towers are also on display in Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield.
The village’s memorial stands in front of the Plover Municipal Center. Fire Chief Mark Deaver, whose office window faces the monument, says he sees people visit it almost daily.
Now the village’s police chief, Fox cleans the memorial I-beam every few months, and he was doing just that on Monday morning, the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attack, a day now known as Patriot Day.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 22 years already,” Fox commented as he cleaned the I-beam with WD-40 and a cloth shortly after 7 a.m. on Sept. 11.
Fox recalled some of the efforts that went into obtaining the I-beam, which he said involved “a lot of red tape.”
Fox also penned the words inscribed on the memorial plaque:
“I’m glad we were able to get it [in the village],” Fox said. “We can’t forget; we can’t let the world forget.”
A second plaque explains the design of the memorial space:
Remember, freedom is never free. We must remain vigilant and be ready to stand up and fight for our freedom whenever necessary.”
The memorial is located in front of the Plover Municipal Center, 2400 Post Rd.