Prince William County’s Liberty Memorial, dedicated to the remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001, includes a pentagonal pool. Two fountains represent the Twin Towers, and Pennsylvania flagstone encircles the plaza to commemorate those killed on United Flight 93. The names of the 22 Prince William residents who were killed that day are on display.
The site, a part of Freedom Park at the McCoart Government Center, was completed and dedicated in 2006. Last week, county construction crews installed four towering steel pieces from the World Trade Center.
Officials plan to unveil the World Trade Center Monument at 7 p.m. Wednesday, on the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The 20-minute ceremony will be at the monument, across the road from Freedom Park. Officials hope the structure will serve as a “raw” reminder of the 2001 events, Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said.
The monument is 22 feet tall, an accidental but notable coincidence, given the significance of the number, said Brendon Hanafin, the county’s historic preservation director. In the coming weeks, crews will add 11 bushes to each side of the monument, as well as lighting so it can be seen at night, Hanafin said.
John Stirrup, a former county supervisor who worked to bring the beams to Prince William when he was on the board, said he was awestruck when he visited the warehouse where they were stored in 2011.
“It’s not only a symbol, but it’s something real, it’s actual. It was in the structure, and it’s something people can relate to,” he said. “And to serve as a reminder to future generations that we have to be vigilant. Our freedom is not free.”
The steel structure was designed by Martin Santini, a New Jersey architect who was chosen after a national competition. The county plans to continue to work on the $260,000 monument and will add landscape features this month.
Three of the beams that create the new monument are clustered, leaning together at angles, to depict the chaos of the fallen towers, according to a county news release. A fourth stands upright, apart from the others, to testify to the certainty of U.S. resilience, Santini said in the release.
“I think people should touch it and have a connection to it,” he said.
Stirrup grew up in northern New Jersey, in the shadow of the Twin Towers. He remembers how they went up bit by bit, floor by floor. “What a symbol,” he said of the buildings.
The county was contacted in early 2010 to see whether it was interested in receiving pieces of the World Trade Center. Supervisors said yes, but Stirrup and other board members were crestfallen later that year when a letter arrived saying there was no more steel available.
Stirrup, a federal lobbyist by trade who now lobbies on behalf of Prince William and other municipalities, called New Jersey state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, a friend from his days in the Reagan administration. He asked whether there was anything he could do.
A few days later, someone from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which was handling the wreckage from the New York attacks, called to say they had four pieces for the county. A contingent went up in 2011 to collect the pieces; it included Stewart and Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Potomac).
Some people cried and others looked on in awe as a truck carrying the nearly 60,000 pounds of wreckage pulled up to the Prince William government center in June 2011, according to a Washington Post article at the time.
Stewart said he and others are relieved the project came to fruition in time for the anniversary.
“History is not always pretty; it’s sometimes very ugly,” he said. “And we wanted to display the brutality of 9/11 and the fact that this was a tragic day.”