Anne Arundel breaks ground on 9/11 memorial

It's designed to evoke the image of the Twin Towers: Two steel beams recovered from Ground Zero rise high into the air from broken pieces of concrete. An American flag anchors the site, flanked by red maple trees.

The beginnings of a public memorial in Anne Arundel County to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were recently installed outside the headquarters of the county's police and fire departments on Veterans Highway. The memorial, consisting of wreckage from the site of the World Trade Center, was designed to honor the emergency personnel who died in the attacks nearly nine years ago.

The Anne Arundel Arts Council, a nonprofit that received county funding, has embarked on a $50,000 fundraising drive to raise money for the finishing touches of the memorial honoring the first responders — including plaques and benches.

"It's important for future generations to remember that tragic event, but also the heroic response the first responders made for their fellow citizens," said County Executive John R. Leopold, who said he conceived of the idea.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which was headquartered at the trade center, has donated pieces of the wreckage of the towers to governments and civic groups around the globe for inclusion in memorials to the victims, according to news reports. Leopold requested a piece of wreckage from the organization last year.

While much of the work for the memorial was donated by local companies — including a Gambrills steel erection company, which hauled the beams from New York, and an Annapolis firm, which designed the memorial — county officials hope to install benches, lighting and other fixtures and landscaping.

The design calls for two brick walkways leading to the memorial, which will feature the two beams rising from rubble. The memorial will be surrounded by 10 red maple trees, which have been planted in a semicircle around the beams. The trees are expected to be in bloom each year during the anniversary of the attacks.

County officials plan to hold a dedication at the still-unfinished memorial on this year's anniversary of the attacks, and expect the project to be completed by the 10th anniversary.

Mike Prokopchak, owner of Annapolis-based Walnut Hill Landscape Co., volunteered to design the memorial. Prokopchak also designed the state's firefighters memorial on Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis.

Prokopchak, also a volunteer firefighter in West Annapolis, said the design, which he worked on with intern Paul Kawozka, was meant to represent the Twin Towers.

Broken slabs of concrete sit at the foot of the beams, which are 15 feet and 11.5 feet in length and were installed in a "V" shape. The concrete, along with a water mist, is meant to appear as "ash or dust from the pile of debris," Prokopchak said, adding that lights will illuminate the memorial at night.

Donations may be made through the purchase of engraved bricks lining the pathways for between $100 and $350, depending on size. Organizers are also offering the option of paying for the dedication of benches and trees as part of the fundraising effort.

For more information on how to donate or volunteer, call the arts council at 410-222-7949 or go to

"This memorial will serve as a place of reflection and respect to all the victims of the worst terrorist attack to occur on United States soil," said Police Chief Col. James Teare, Sr. "It will provide us with a visual image that reminds all of us of the sacrifice our fellow Americans made on 9-11-01."

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