Thirteen years after the moment the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center, the shadow of a 12-foot-tall rusty steel beam will find a granite wall in Kennedale’s September 11 Memorial and start its silent trek across an etched timeline of the events of that morning.
The beam, donated to the city in 2011 by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, forms the pin of a sundial rimmed with five gray granite walls. Four are dedicated to the victims, to the New York Fire Department and to the New York and Port Authority police departments.
But at 8:46 a.m., all eyes will be on that shadow in TownCenter Park, just behind City Hall.
“Watching that shadow go across really brings you back to that moment,” said Mayor Brian Johnson, adding that the centerpiece of the memorial draws people year-round. “Any other time you would see people walking around there and just reach out and touch it — touch a piece of history.”
The memorial was dedicated in October 2011, close to the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. There were observances on the 2012 and 2013 anniversaries, though cloudy weather one year erased the shadow.
In 2009, Johnson provided the spark for the memorial project. He had read an article about how the Port Authority was donating pieces of the wreckage to communities wanting to develop their own memorials, and he took it to City Manager Bob Hart, who jumped on board immediately.
Hart sent a letter to the Port Authority; the gift received approval six months later, and the project drew strong local support in the form of volunteers and contributions of money and materials.
The sundial was conceived in a group discussion, Hart said, and Sam Austin of CMA Architects pulled the ideas together and designed it for free. Melton Truck Lines made the trip to New York to bring the beam to Kennedale, also free of charge, and the price of the granite was reduced for the project.
“Still, the city spent something in the neighborhood of $40,000,” Hart said, adding that he believes it has been worth every penny.