Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Twisted Metal a Fragment of an Indelible Moment

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Twisted Metal a Fragment of an Indelible Moment

Article excerpt

VENICE

The steel beam that once helped hold up one of the world's most famous skyscrapers looks almost unscathed, except for a slight twist near the top.

Today, the beam is nearly 1,200 miles from the site of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Venice's Patriots Park is home to a piece of 9/11 -- a 4,000- pound steel support beam used to reinforce floors in the North Tower.

The beam will be center stage for Venice's 9/11 Tribute from 10 a.m. until noon today.

The beam's journey to Venice was the inspiration of Gene Sweeney, who spent more than three years working to bring a piece of living history to South County.

"Every community should have an artifact or a remembrance of 9/ 11," Sweeney said. "Especially here, because some of the people who planned and carried out the attacks trained in Venice."

Sweeney said the completed memorial is one-of-a-kind in that it honors military service members killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars alongside the names of those killed on 9/11.

"Not even the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero has all of the military heroes listed," Sweeney said

Sweeney, who lives in Lakewood Ranch, said he came up with the idea after talking with his grandchildren in 2009, when they were in middle school.

Sweeney said he asked the children what they learned about 9/11 in their Long Island school. To his shock, his grandchildren said they did not know much about the attacks other than what they saw on televised remembrances.

He told them more people died in 9/11 than in Pearl Harbor.

"My grandson said, 'Grandpa, that's impossible, tens of thousands of people died in Pearl Harbor,'" Sweeney recalled. "When I told them how many people died in (the two different) attacks, they were shocked." (In the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, 2,402 Americans were killed; 2,997 people were killed by the 9/11 terrorists.)

Sweeney did not want future generations to forget the magnitude of 9/11 and its connection to ensuing conflicts. …

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