For the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Chaplain Sterling Claypoole with the El Dorado Police Department hosted a remembrance ceremony at the local memorial.
Claypoole was joined by members from the EPD, firefighters, local politicians, pastors and members of the South Arkansas Community College faculty outside of the El Dorado Conference Center where a piece of Tower One is housed.
“This memorial that sits behind me is to represent the lives lost, the families still living and the legacy that they will continue on with,” Claypoole said. “Six hundred and ninety-nine pounds of Tower One sit behind me and you face it. Tower One, Tower One. The first building to be hit, the last building to come down. Lives were lost. Heroes were made.”
The Arkansas 9/11 Memorial was unveiled on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 outside of the Conference Center. Part of what prompted the creation was a program from The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
After the attacks, The Port Authority came into possession of the remains of the two towers and decided to give them as artifacts to local governments interested in creating individual memorials. The artifacts were required to be part of the finished memorial.
Former Mayor Mike Dumas started the process by applying for the artifact. Claypoole also played a main part in the creation of the memorial and in acquiring the 700 pound piece of steel from Tower One that is included in it. He was one of a team of four people who traveled to New York to transport the steel back to its final home.
Claypoole, EPD officer Michael Nolan, Tom Wilson with ProMed Ambulance Service and El Dorado firefighter Britt Galbraith made the over 1,300 mile drive from El Dorado to New York to get the steel.
On the way back, they were escorted by different local and state law enforcement agencies. They stopped in Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock before the steel arrived in El Dorado.
Once in El Dorado, the steel went around to the different schools while local artists worked on its final home. The steel itself remained intact when it was placed in the memorial.
The final product of the memorial features a slit wall to resemble the Two Towers. It also features a timeline of events that occurred on 9/11 and the four names of the Arkansans who lost their lives in the attack. The chunk of twisted, rusty steel itself is at the foot the timeline on a platform explaining where it came from.
The remembrance ceremony has been held every year at the memorial since it was created.
“A Tuesday morning, much like today,” said the Rev. Eric Burton with First Baptist Church El Dorado. “But on that morning, evil men followed through with acts of terror and wickedness and took the lives of 3,014 men and women, young and old, the innocent and the called to act. On this day every year, we come to celebrate the lives, mourn the loss and never forget the change from tragedy to triumph because of the lives that were given.”
Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.