World Trade Center steel embodies more than just metal

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A motorcade holding a damaged New York City fire truck and 17.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center came to the Nixon Library Monday morning to mark the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. 

People from all over the county donned patriotic colors to commemorate 9/11 in Yorba Linda, where they could see and touch pieces of American history.

The remnants were brought by Freedom’s Flame Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has been showing the fire truck and steel to various cities across the U.S. since 2002.

The motorcade traveled across the country in 11 days and passed through 14 state capitols. The journey began in New York City and ended in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

People who attended the event said the World Trade Center steel embodies more than metal.

“In that steel and on that fire truck are the remains of people who gave their life that day. That’s why it’s not just steel and not just a fire truck, it’s very important to remember that,” said Dennis Spout, founder and chair of Freedom’s Flame Foundation.

The Ladder 152 Fire Truck served at ground zero for more than six months after the 9/11 attacks. The piece of steel contains segments from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the American Airlines Flight 77 crash site in Washington, D.C., and the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pa.

“Those are artifacts of one of the most tragic days in the history of this country, but also remember that those are also remembrance of some of the bravest individuals that this country has ever witnessed,” Spout said.

While visiting the sight of the Pentagon where American Airlines Flight 77 had crashed, Kevin Hoyt had the opportunity to handle a piece of the plane.

“I was actually handed pieces of the Pentagon and flight (77). You could still smell the jet fuel on it. It was very, very strong,” said Hoyt, the chair of the board of directors for Freedom’s Flames.

Fullerton resident Mary Ann Loomis, an attendee at the event, said she knew someone who died on 9/11.

“We are all going to die, but it’s the way you die that makes a difference. That’s what made this event (the motorcade) so special,” said Loomis.

The commemoration of 9/11 at the Nixon Library will continue this week until Friday. There will be a daily presentation at 10:30 a.m. featuring members of the Armed Forces and 9/11 first-responders sharing personal accounts and stories.

The event will conclude Sept. 11 with a presentation from a military honor guard 9/11 survivor and first-respondent fireman Joe Torillo at 11 a.m. The damaged Aerial Ladder 152 Fire Truck and 17.5 tons of World Trade Center steel will be open to the public and free to view outside the Nixon Library until Sunday.

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