Phase 1 of 9/11 Memorial Walkway to be dedicated Sunday

BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI) - The 9/11 Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois will be dedicating the completion of Phase 1 of the project on Sunday.  9/11/2016 will mark the 15th anniversary of the deadly attack against the United States.

The non-profit group continues to raise money to finish the project which includes a 343 foot walkway.  343 firefighters died in the 9/11 attacks.

“This is really our generation’s Pearl Harbor.  It changed everything as we know it,” said Belleville Fire Chief Tom Pour.

Currently two concrete pillars stand on one end of the memorial.  They represent the twin towers. Sometime this week a 35 foot long beam weighing 7,000 pounds will be affixed to the pillars.  The beam came from the World Trade Center and currently sits inside the Belleville Fire Station.

“We come into this station and touch the beam every day,” said Pour.

The Belleville Fire Chief said when the beam is affixed; it will point toward New York out of respect for the New York firefighters who died.  He says it’s hard to believe a beam so solid could be twisted the way it was.

Pour believes the memorial is especially important for the growing number of people who were born after 9/11/2001.

“It allows them to come out here and actually see real history,” said Pour.

There will be plaques along the walkway describing the chain of events that resulted in nearly 3,000 innocent people losing their lives that day.

“People can drive by it and maybe if they don’t know what it is, they’ll stop over and take a look and walk the timeline and remember those who lost their lives that day,” said Pour.

The memorial is located next to the Belleville Fire Administration building at 1125 S. Illinois St. in Belleville.  The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2pm on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Pour is extending an open invitation to area firefighters to attend the ceremony.  He is asking them to wear their turnout gear, and is hoping 343 firefighters will accept the invitation.  Pour said it would be a way to respect the 343 firefighter lives lost that day.