The Marathon Fire Station is set to unveil its 911 Memorial on Thursday, March 13 at 5:30 p.m. It’s a lovely and elaborate tribute to the firefighters that lost their lives trying to rescue others on that fateful day. The tribute was conceived, designed and executed by Marathon’s own firefighters — starting with Lt. Adam Geaneas.
Geaneas wouldn’t take no for an answer when authorities said there was no more metal beams, recovered from the horrific accident site, to be distributed.
“I started asking when the New York City Port Authority started allocating pieces of the building to fire departments and cities for display in 2010,” Geaneas said. “I was denied a few times and told it was all spoken for. But I pursued it and was able to obtain two pieces in 2011.”
The first piece went into a small display at the Grassy Key Fire Station. The second, more grandiose memorial, is at the “main” fire station next to the airport.
It was no easy task retrieving those pieces from New York City. Geaneas and Capt. Eric Dunford made a nonstop trip in March of 2012 from Marathon in Dunford’s truck, towing a flat bed trailer belonging to Tony D’Aiuto.
“We loaded it up at Hangar 17 at the John F. Kennedy Airport and turned around and drove back,” Geaneas said. “I think it took us about 48 hours.”
The hunk of twisted metal is surrounded by six plates of thick glass etched with the firefighters’ names. LED lighting gives it an unearthly glow, as suitably solemn as its subject matter. There are other symbolic details to the memorial including a replica of a New York City fire helmet and four flags to denote the four planes that went down on 911.
It cost more than $5,000 to construct. Local businesses including D’Asign Source, All Design, Forest Tek and The Home Depot have donated materials. Members of the Marathon Fire Rescue Benevolent Association sold “challenge” coins to fund the project. They had 343 coins — the same number as firefighters that died on that historic day — struck and sold the 10k-goldplated pieces $20 each.
“We had a World Trade Center metal worker buy a few coins,” Geaneas said. “He saw an article in The Weekly about it and came into purchase some for himself and his buddies. He said it was his way of acknowledging the anniversary of the attacks.”
Dunford said the memorial is a powerful thing.
“It memorializes the people who died doing their job,” Dunford said. “The guys and girls that work here would do the same thing. In the fires service— it’s hard to explain to somebody who isn’t in the fire service — but when another fire fighter dies, especially in the line of duty, we all feel it.”
The memorial will be unveiled on Thursday, March 13 at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Guests will also have a chance to purchase some of the remaining challenge coins.