by Gabriella Sacidor
ABSECON, N.J., (CBS) – After hundreds of phone calls, emails, text messages, and letters for firefighter Jim Smith, a piece of the World Trade Center steel has made its way to Absecon.
One firefighter’s vision has become a reality for the city.
Smith says he thought of the idea while he was attending a 9/11 memorial ceremony last year.
“I felt the desire to show the world, the state of New Jersey, and the Atlantic County area, we will never forget those lost on that Tuesday,” said Smith.
The World Trade Center beam arrived to Absecon 220 days later.
With the help of his friend, former Absecon Fire Chief Butch Stewart, Smith spent every day corresponding with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owns the steel.
Over the past year, Smith says he has sent hundreds of emails, phone calls, text messages, and letters.
“Many people said I was crazy to work on this project and laughed at the idea. I didn’t worry about those people, rather the families of those lost,” he said.
A day in March arrived that Smith says he’ll never forget.
“My wife gave a copy of an email that said, ‘you’re approved.’ I didn’t fully understand my feelings, but I had a moment that will last a lifetime,” said Smith.
On April 17th, Smith traveled to Hangar 17 at Kennedy International Airport in New York where the pieces of the World Trade Center are stored to bring their beam home to Absecon.
The Absecon Fire Company and dozens of residents awaited the steel’s arrival.
He says that’s when a strange moment occurred.
“As we turned left to City Hall, the time was 3:43 p.m., the same number of firefighters and paramedics killed on September 11th,” he said. “Some people actually cried, and that was something that came from their hearts.”
The memorial’s planning committee will meet in two weeks to begin final preparations. Although the site location is not set, Smith says preliminary plans are to point the beam towards New York City.
The committee plans to host the memorial’s dedication day on September 11th or September 13th of 2014.