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Maryland Fire Museum in Lutherville set to host 9/11 Rolling Memorial on Saturday

Lutherville, MD - May 2, 2015 - A steam show took place at The Fire Museum of Maryland feature antique fire engines. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Sun)
Lutherville, MD - May 2, 2015 - A steam show took place at The Fire Museum of Maryland feature antique fire engines. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Sun) (Kaitlin Newman / Baltimore Sun)

The Fire Museum of Maryland is set to host Maryland’s 9/11 Rolling Memorial on Saturday, Aug. 15. The memorial is dedicated to the 69 Marylanders killed on Sept. 11, 2001, in the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center in New York, on American Airlines Flight 77 and on United Airlines Flight 93.

Maryland’s 9/11 Rolling Memorial features a 1918 Remembrance Bell that was made in Baltimore by the McShane Foundry. Four bronze plaques are inscribed with the names of the Marylanders who died on 9/11. The memorial display is seen as a tool for teaching the victims’ stories of sacrifice, loss and patriotism.

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The bell will be on display from 10 a.m. until around 1 p.m.Saturday in the front parking lot of the Fire Museum.

Jessica Bentz, store manager at the museum, which is located on York Road in Lutherville, believes the rolling memorial is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

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“We started to fundraise last year for a 9/11 exhibit and I know Chuck [Ritz], the gentleman that leads the rolling exhibit, is starting a rolling education program, too,” Bentz said.

Ritz, who created the memorial, will be at Satursday’s event. After seeing the destruction firsthand one week after the terrorist attacks, Ritz and his organization, The Hope and Peace Foundation, made it their mission to keep the memory of that day alive.

“I went up to New York on the 18th of September, really for myself to see if it really happened,” said Ritz. “As I went over the bridge and saw that the towers were gone and the smoke still billowing from the pile made me realize that wasn’t just a crazy dream.

“Then, I wound up spending eight hours and taking photos and talking to people. It’s just pretty surreal and looking at everybody and seeing that even though we looked, talked or dressed differently that those, days, weeks and months afterwards, we were all the same.”

The bell was inspired by the Bells of Remembrance, a 9/11 memorial project created by Brother David Schlatter to honor his friend, Father Mychal Judge, who was chaplain of the New York City Fire Department and the first recorded 9/11 victim.

Many of the firefighters who survived the 9/11 attacks have dealt with various types of cancers and other injuries. With the extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund last July, 9/11 victims and their families will receive compensation for illnesses that were caused that day.

Bentz, whose father is a retired police officer, wants viewers of the memorial to understand that being a first responder is a massive responsibility that could have deadly consequences.

“It’s more than coming up and making an appearance at the school or rescuing the cats or coming because grandma fell or things like that, it’s a lot of wear and tear,” Bentz said of firefighters.

“Firefighters should be looked at with a little more respect, I think ... I don’t think most people realize what it takes to be a firefighter.”

Since it opened in 1971, the Fire Museum of Maryland has preserved the history of the urban fire service in the United States.

For the past four decades, the museum has held an “Honor Our Heroes Motor Muster” event, its largest of the year, on Sept. 12. According to director Steve Heaver, the event, which honors the men and the women who’ve served in the emergency services, will be held again this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, but will be smaller than usual.

Two Ahrens-Fox fire engines will be parked outside the museum — a 1922 model and a 1913 Model-A, which is the only one in the world. Baltimore had a 1913 Model-A from 1914 to 1938, but the piece to be showcased is from Ohio. It will be the first time that the public will see the model in 50 years. There also will be privately owned antique water-pumping engines on display, and flea market vendors will be selling firefighting-related items. .

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“We’re not expecting many pieces; the games and the food have all been canceled,” Heaver said. “It will be a simple kind of program so that we can keep our social distancing and yet have some pieces from the museum collection outside operating.”

As part of its educational mission, the museum wants future generations to “see how the machines feel, smell, how they work, how hard it is to make them work or how easy,” he said.

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