Ohio communities honor victims of 9/11 with new memorial sites


Michael Work, Kent State architecture graduate, was the main designer for the Police and Fire All Patriots 9/11 Memorial in Tiffin, OH. The memorial features a steel beam that was part of one of the World Trade Center buildings, which is angled on a pentagon-shaped base at 9.11 degrees. The memorial, located at the intersection of N. Washington St. and Frost Pkwy, was dedicated on Sunday, Sept. 9 after a solemn progression by Tiffin police and firefighters from St. Joesph’s Church. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Megan Wilkinson

Firefighters, police and other members of the Tiffin, Ohio, community gathered Sunday to remember Sept. 11 as the town dedicated the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial to those who lost their lives or served during the terrorist attacks 11 years ago.

The memorial — which was designed by a Kent State alumnus — had been in the works for a little more than a year. Now, the site is finally nearing completion. More than 300 attended the weekend ceremony.

Chris Hafley, a firefighter with Tiffin Fire Rescue Division and chairman for the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial Committee, said he has never been part of a project as big as this.

Other 9/11 memorials in Ohio:

  • Lakewood: Memorial steel
  • Eastlake: Boulevard of 500 Flags
  • Euclid: Liberty Gardens 9/11 Memorial
  • Beavercreek: 9/11 Memorial
  • Austintown Township: 9/11 Memorial Park.
  • Delaware: Ohio Wesleyan University Memorial Garden

    (dedicated to former students who died in the 9/11 attacks)

In Spring 2011, Hafley said he learned that individuals can request artifacts from the World Trade Center, and he approached fire Chief William Ennis with the idea that May. Ennis, though surprised, liked the thought of displaying such an artifact in town, and the division immediately sent a request to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for a artifact from one of the towers.

Less than a month later, the Tiffin division was granted a steel beam. In August of 2011, four firefighters traveled to New York City to retrieve the steam beam from John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Hangar 17, which is filled with artifacts from 9/11. The team received a 17-foot piece of steel to share with the Tiffin community.

“We got a large piece,” Hafley said. “We trailered it back with one of the guys’ pickup trucks. Everywhere we stopped, people gathered to see it.”

He said the steel beam his team received was the last artifact to be distributed from Hangar 17.

“You’re kind of obligated when you take the steel to make a memorial of some sort,” Hafley said. “You can’t take the steel and go scrap it out. You have to do something with it to memorialize the event.”

Hafley said plans really started to roll in October of 2011. Michael Work, a Kent State alumnus and Hafley’s son-in-law, agreed to help design a 9/11 memorial for the Tiffin community.

Work graduated from Kent State with a master’s degree in architecture in May 2011. Though he initially returned to the Tiffin area to be employed full time with Richard Fleischman and Partners Architects, Work spent hours of his own time planning for the memorial.

“This is the first memorial I’ve worked on,” he said. “It’s something I just wanted to do on the side for my hometown.”

The community also formed the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial Committee, which consists of Hafley, two fellow firefighters, two police officers, a person from the city’s parks department and three local citizens. The committee worked closely with Seneca County Industrial and Economic Development Corporation to secure the memorial site and setup at the corner of North Washington and Water streets.

No aspect of the project was conceived using local tax dollars, Hafley said. Fundraising began in February with individual donations, and so far the committee has raised about $185,000. Hafley said the community still needs to raise about $10,000 to pay for the memorial.

“This is the biggest project I’ve ever done,” Hafley said. “I’ve done small benefits, but nothing like this.”

Work presented the final plans for the memorial to the committee in early 2012. His design highlights the steel beam, which rests on a pentagon-shaped granite base at the memorial site. There is an opening in the base that refers to the Pentagon’s point of impact, and a nearby American flag casts a shadow on the tip of the beam around 9 a.m. every day.

Work noted coming up with a strong concept was the most difficult part about designing it.

“It turned out amazing,” Work said. “Quite a few people commented on the design and how thought out it was. It was definitely more meaningful than anything I’d done before.”

Work said remembering 9/11 is important for the current college-aged generation because it’s the last age group that can recall the actualization of the tragedy.

“This is the last generation that [9/11] can connect to before it’s used as a teaching tool,” he said. “Memorials like this around the country are helpful to remember this is a tragic event in our country.”

Stow honors 9/11 with Memorial Garden

Stow is honoring the Americans who died 11 years ago in the 9/11 attacks with the city’s new Memorial Garden site outside Stow City Hall.

Stow Mayor Sara Drew said the community has been planning for the garden since last year. Although it is not yet completed, the main walkway and World Trade Center I-Beam is up to view.

Early in 2011, Stow Law Director Brian Reali requested the piece of steel from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and received an I-Beam for the memorial’s focal point.

Charles Frederick, a local landscape architect and teacher in Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, designed the Stow Memorial Garden for 9/11. Frederick said Reali asked him for a design concept, and Kent State graduate Jeremy Beatty helped to design the $30,000 memorial, which was entirely funded by private donations.

“They thought about keeping (the I-Beam) in city hall in a glass case, but I said they should keep it outside so everyone can see it and touch it,” Frederick said.

Frederick said the Memorial Garden is a 50 foot diameter circle outside Stow City Hall. He said the I-Beam is resting on a five-sided piece of black polished granite to represent the Pentagon, and the walkway area around the granite is paved with Pennsylvania Bluestone to honor Flight 93. Behind the Pentagon stand three flagpoles — one with the Stow city flag, one with the Ohio state flag and one with the U.S. flag.

“I think it will be a nice way for people to come to city hall and see something like this,” Frederick said. “You don’t always have to think about it, but it’s a symbolic idea that’s easy to understand.”

Drew said she estimates the project will be entirely done by October.