After Sept. 11, 2001, cities and towns across North Texas received pieces of twisted steel from the World Trade Center in New York City, reminders of not only the attacks on America, but the perseverance of the nation.
Many of those city leaders have created permanent installations in parks and facilities that allow residents to reflect on the events of that day. Prosper, however, took another approach to memorializing the lives lost on 9/11, creating a mobile memorial that allows the town’s fire department to bring its 8,000-pound beam to events, neighborhoods, schools and other locations across the area.
Capt. Jason Graham, who coordinates the traveling artifact for the fire department, said the initial plan was to also use the beam in a permanent memorial, but while waiting to build it, the request came in for a display during the Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
“Since it was already on a trailer at the time, it began to spread from there to other events around the area,” he said. “That got us thinking about the idea of making it a permanent mobile memorial that can travel around and be shared with everyone, not just by people coming to Prosper to see it.”
The exhibit travels on a trailer refurbished in 2015 with help from the town of Prosper, the Prosper Firefighters Association Local 4193, Gas Monkey Garage, 360 Wraps of Dallas and the EMS medical group of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - McKinney. The trailer is custom-wrapped with a backdrop of the firefighters on 9/11 at Ground Zero.
It includes two video monitors that show footage and news stories with full audio. In addition, two photos display the names and photographs of the first responders who were killed in the attacks.
The memorial recently made a stop at Mustang Creek Estates Assisted Living and Memory Care in Frisco, allowing senior residents the chance to pay tribute without going far from home.
Graham said there’s no limit on how far the memorial can go.
“We always try to go where it is requested to continue to ensure people truly ‘Never Forget’ this tragic day,” he said. “We have traveled as far east as Mount Pleasant over to Fort Worth and then the cities and towns in between. … It’s one thing to read about 9/11, but totally different when you can actually see it in person and just how big the steel beams were that built the twin towers.”
As time passes, people who are old enough to remember can still recall where they were and what they were doing on the morning of 9/11, Graham said.
“We have watched people just touch the memorial, close their eyes to reflect and have also seen many tears cried,” he said. “It really lets us know that we chose the right path for our memorial when we see people affected in that way.”
The beam is always available to be seen at Prosper Fire Station #2, 1140 S. Teel Parkway.