World Trade Center steel part of Cannon 9/11 memorial

Sharna Johnson

A piece of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center has found a home with the 27th Special Operations Wing’s Fire and Emergency Services at Cannon Air Force Base.

The steel, granted to Cannon by the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, is the only one of its kind in the state of New Mexico, according to Port Authority Spokesman Steve Coleman.

In a Sept. 11 ceremony to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Cannon fire department will unveil a memorial containing the steel.

At 6:46 a.m. (8:46 a.m. Eastern time) Sept. 11 — the exact moment of the first attack on the World Trade Center — the ceremony will begin with the lowering of the flag at the headquarters building.

The flag will then be escorted to the Cannon Fire Department, where it will be retired and become part of the memorial, said Master Sgt. John Hearn, deputy fire chief.

The ceremony is in honor of the nearly 3,000 people killed Sept. 11, 2001, On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four planes and nearly 3,000 people were killed.

“Obviously losing the firefighters (on Sept. 11), that hit home because being a firefighter, everybody in fire protection are your brothers and sisters. … We wanted something here for remembrance,” Hearn said.

“This is not only a remembrance for the firefighter. This is also going to be a remembrance ceremony for our (Air Force Special Operations Command) air commandos who have perished since. … We’re a family of brothers and sisters.”

Hearn said his group applied for a piece of the Trade Center two years ago and have anxiously waited for the 4-foot-by-2-foot piece to arrive.

Coleman said 1,200 pieces — all that was available to be given — of the Trade Center have been distributed through all 50 states and to seven foreign countries.

“They sent us proposals. (We require) the piece of steel be part of a public memorial or a public display,” he said. “(Cannon’s piece) was the only request that we approved to New Mexico.”

The steel was originally collected to be used in a memorial at the World Trade Center site, but Coleman said there was quite a bit of steel left over from the memorial and the decision was made to distribute it for other memorials.

Hearn said the memorial service will include speakers from Cannon’s fire department and security forces units, with regional fire and law enforcement agencies in attendance.

Later that night, a community choir will perform “Homeland” at 6 p.m. at Marshall Auditorium in Clovis.

Comprised of singers from Clovis, Portales and Texico, the group will sing a collection of patriotic songs, said Damond Pearce of Central Baptist Church in Clovis.

“(It will be) some introspective and powerful moments of patriotic reflection,” Pearce said.

“Regardless of where each of us came from, America is our homeland and it’s up to the nation together to make society work. … We depend on God and our relationship with Jesus Christ to help us do that.”

A remembrance ceremony will also be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Steed-Todd Funeral Home Chapel to commemorate the attacks and present Clovis firefighters and law enforcement with plaques honoring their service to the community.

“We just thought it was a good idea to do something for the local police and fire department because we know how much they do behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t see,” said Joe Champouillon, assistant funeral home manager.

Champouillon said Steed-Todd also plans to install a commemorative 9/11 medallion at the base of the flag pole in front of the funeral home.

The Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group dedicated to honoring American service members, will take part in the Patriots and Heroes Pacific to Potomac Relay.

The group will greet riders traveling from California to Washington, D.C., to present a code of support to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff on Sept. 11 at 2:30 p.m. Monday at VFW Post 3280.

They will then ride to Java Loft in Clovis, where a 3 p.m. ceremony will be held.