A piece of American history will make a stop in Grantsville next week before taking permanent residence in Salt Lake City.
A chunk of concrete slurry wall from the World Trade Center in New York City will be on display at the Grantsville Fire Station Tuesday as part of its tour across the state before being placed on display at Fort Douglas.
Raetta Belcher, a Park City woman who organized the tour, said she became involved after talking with four mothers of Utah soldiers who had been killed in action in the Middle East. Her involvement was also spurred on after someone had mentioned the possibility of a memorial dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives in war from Utah.
“I was sitting across the table from four gold-star mothers, and their reaction, that there could be this memorial to fallen warriors in Utah, their reaction was unbelievable,” Belcher said.
“I saw the emotions and reactions that a military family goes through that none of us ever see,” she added. “The bottom line was they just wanted their sons remembered. The thought of a memorial in Utah, they just sat there and cried. They didn’t believe it could be possible.”
The concrete block is one of 11 cut from a portion of a slurry wall at the World Trade Center, which held back the Hudson River and survived the 9/11 attack. The wall was removed to make way for a new subway line installed for the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
The blocks were then sent to an artist in Florida, Belcher said, who polished and smoothed them into stones for display. At the time she met the four mothers, the artist had just completed the second stone and said it could be used as a memorial in Utah.
Belcher said the offer was accepted, and she and the mothers began looking for sites where a memorial could be placed. They were granted a space of land at Fort Douglas, and then found volunteers and donors to provide materials and manpower to make the monument’s base. The stone will bear the name the artist gave it: “UT6andAll.”
“Utah Six” refers to six soldiers from the state who were killed in action since 2001, including Tooele County’s own Spc. Jordan Byrd. Byrd was shot while attending to another soldier in a firefight in Afghanistan three years ago this month. Belcher said the second half of the monument’s title is to include all soldiers who have lost or will lose their lives in various conflicts.
The tour of the 5-foot-by-5-foot, 4.5-ton stone was originally designed to stop at 17 towns throughout Utah, most in regions far away from Salt Lake, such as Logan, St. George, Richfield and Vernal. However, Belcher said, other cities expressed interest, and the tour was expanded to accommodate them.
She said she feels the tour is important to remind people of 9/11 and the sacrifices it has brought, especially for children and teenagers who were too young to remember when 9/11 happened.
“We wanted to reach out to all the outer cities as much as possible, these towns that never make it up to Salt Lake or memorial places,” said Belcher. “I think this rock represents so much. This is nothing that we should ever, ever forget.”
Grantsville has always been on the tour list as the place of Byrd’s grave and because of how helpful and involved Byrd’s family has been in the process. The stone will be ushered in by various public safety departments when it crosses into Tooele County on Tuesday.
The Tooele County Sheriff’s Office will escort it from the county line to Stansbury Park, where it will be met by the North Tooele County Fire District. NTCFD trucks will be relieved by fire trucks from the Tooele City Fire Department once the stone travels into Tooele, and will escort it to Deseret Peak Complex, where the Grantsville Volunteer Fire Department will take over.
A short program will accompany the stone’s display at the Grantsville Fire Station beginning at 6 p.m. and will include remarks from John Shields, a Grantsville firefighter who assisted with cleanup and recovery following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Grantsville City Mayor Brent Marshall said he hoped the event would help bring a deeper understanding for local residents about the terrorist attacks and their lasting effect on the country, both in Grantsville and when it is on permanent display in Salt Lake.
“Hopefully it will be a ceremony where people who have never seen the Trade Center, or the aftermath of the Trade Center, will understand the hallowed place it is,” he said. “It’s a sacred place for a lot of people where a lot of lives were lost, so this is just going to be placed at Fort Douglas, it will be permanently placed for all to see.”
The stone is scheduled to be placed at Fort Douglas on Oct. 21.