A piece of the World Trade Center is coming to Utah on Friday, initiating a 20-city statewide tour that will end with its placement in a peace park at Fort Douglas.
The artifact is 9,000 pounds of concrete from a subterranean "slurry wall" that prevented the Hudson River from flooding Ground Zero after the twin towers were taken down by airborne terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, killing more than 2,600 people in New York City.
It is being purchased by a group known as Utah's Fallen Warrior Memorial, which organized the tour to help raise the $150,000 still needed to buy the piece. Group Executive Director Raette Bloomfield Belcher also is working with the Fort Douglas Military Museum to place the memorial permanently at the Salt Lake City base, near a monument the museum is planning to honor women in the service.
"You get goose bumps thinking about these being from the World Trade Center," said Belcher, owner of Southwest Indian Traders in Park City.
She took on this project after listening at a luncheon to "Gold Star Mothers" who had lost sons in combat since the Gulf War in 1990-91.
"It was heartbreaking to hear them talk of their sons' lives and what they planned to do after their military service," she said, "and of their grandchildren who would be raised without a dad."
So Belcher set out to do something about it. She learned that 11 slabs of concrete had been excavated from the slurry wall the number picked to match the memorable date and made arrangements to buy one for $180,000.
Her husband's company, Mountain Crane Service of Riverton, volunteered to bring the block back to Utah. The cross-country drive elicited strong reactions along the way. "Everyone wanted to touch it," David Belcher said.
"It's like a healing stone," his wife added. "You touch it and it brings you peace."
Robert Voyles, Fort Douglas Military Museum director, said the Fallen Warriors Memorial will complement his plans to erect a six-statue monument to Utah women who have been to war.
That project also needs $150,000 to be done, but the groundwork is in place for both monuments thanks to contributions of labor by Fallen Warriors supporters such as Daley Excavators and Hughes General Contractors.
"The 9/11 stone represents all Gold Star families throughout our history," said Voyles.
Belcher said the artifact will be welcomed into the state in a 9 a.m. ceremony Friday at the Utah Highway Patrol's Port of Entry along Interstate 80, just south of Evanston, Wyo.
"Anyone can come," she added, and follow the piece to the Fort Douglas museum. It will be there Friday, then be moved Saturday to the west parking lot of Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah for the tailgate party before Ute fans head to Provo for the football game against Brigham Young University.
On Monday, Logan will be the first stop on the artifact's statewide journey. Other stops through Oct. 12 will include St. George, Richfield, Park City, Blanding, Moab, Price and Tooele. For a complete tour schedule, go to bit.ly/slurrywall.
Those wishing to donate to the memorial fund can do so at fortdouglas.org.
Concrete from the World Trade Center, destined to be a Utah's Fallen Warriors Memorial at Fort Douglas, will tour Utah cities on the following dates:
Friday • Fort Douglas Military Museum
Saturday • Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah
Monday • Logan
Tuesday • St. George
Wednesday • Cedar City
Sept. 26 • Richfield
Sept. 27 • Mt. Pleasant
Sept. 28 • Park City
Sept. 29 • Camp Williams
Sept. 30 • Lehi
Oct. 1 • Blanding
Oct. 2 • Moab
Oct. 3 • Price
Oct. 4 • Vernal
Oct. 5 • West Valley City
Oct. 6 • Sandy
Oct. 7 • Provo
Oct. 8 • Grantsville
Oct. 12 • Tooele
Source • Utah's Fallen Warriors Memorial